The earthquake that struck Japan last week was the fourth largest since 1900, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. 

A magnitude 9.0 quake, the March 11 event spawned a tsunami, left hundreds of thousands homeless and badly weakened the country's energy, transportation and economic sectors. Radiation from damaged nuclear power plants has further threatened public safety. (The Oregon Health Authority says there's no danger at the moment of radiation fallout traveling here.)

And the quake is a terrible reminder of what may be in store if predictions for Oregon's next big earthquake just off the Oregon Coast come true.

"It's rare that we get the public's attention," says Yumei Wang, an earthquake risk engineer for the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries. "This is a real threat."

Here's a comparison of the destruction in Japan and what may happen in Oregon if a similar catastrophe strikes our coast.

U.S. Geological Survey; and Yumei Wang, Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, Wikipedia.