UNT Research, Volume 16, 2006 Page: 13
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SEDIMENTS HELP TRACK
eak from starvation,
their strength waned like the ebbing
tide. The ocean, which once provided
them with an abundance of wha
and oil, was now empty ... excelp
for Killer Whale. For weeks the vi'
creature had prowled the frigid water
near their home and slaug
other whales. One day, m
Thunderbird soared down from it
mountain home, and when Killer Whal
surfaced for air, the great bird plunge
its sharp talons into the exposed, v
skin. As the two beasts struggled, tl
earth shook, and the sea rose up in a
wall of water that flooded ih and a-
demolished the vil . ,
Versions of this story have been
passed down through generations of
Native American groups in the Pacific
Northwest. But the legend tells of more
than the struggle between good and evil;
it serves as a rich oral history, recounting
a genuine catastrophic event.
Harry Williams, associate professor
of geography at the University of North
Texas, thinks that stories like this one point
to powerful tsunamis that hit the northwest
coastline during the last 2,500 years. By
digging down through layers of sediments
in the tidal marshes near Discovery Bay,
Wash., Williams has found evidence sug-
gesting that up to nine tsunamis occurred
during this time. He hopes that by under-
standing their patterns, he can contribute
to improved tsunami-preparedness in
"Tsunamis impact the Pacific North-
west, on average, about every 300 years,"
says Williams. "Although you can't predict
the exact timing of future tsunamis, you
can carry out mitigation measures, such as
planning evacuation routes and informing
and educating the public, if you know
which coastal areas are at risk."
UNT RESEARCH zoo006 13
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University of North Texas. UNT Research, Volume 16, 2006, periodical, 2006; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29777/m1/13/: accessed April 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting University Relations, Communications & Marketing department for UNT.