UW scientist: Earthquake could trigger 30,000 landslides

SEATTLE -- Scientists are sounding the alarm about landslides, a potentially deadly side effect if a major earthquake strikes Seattle.

University of Washington scientists said more than 30,000 landslides could be triggered if an earthquake hits while the ground is soggy. As many as 10,000 buildings and homes could be impacted.

The slides could slow recovery efforts and cause wide-scale devastation, experts said. Affected areas include West Seattle, Mount Baker and Beacon Hill.

"A lot of critical lifelines, things like the power, water, the locations of hospitals, critical highway structures, landslides are going to threaten a lot of these critical things," said John Vidale, University of Washington seismologist.

The Seattle Fault stretches from Bremerton to the Cascade Foothills, crossing under West Seattle, Puget Sound and South Seattle.

The last quake on the Seattle Fault was a 7.5 magnitude tremor that hit about 1,100 years ago.