Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Happy Quakeversery

I took this pic on a flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. It's where the San Bernardino Mountains meet the desert. Note how linier the boundery is. That's because the San Andreas Fault devides the two.
150 years ago this month, it ripped itself a new one. Known as the Fort Tejon Quake, it measured 7.9 to 8 on the Richter scale and may have been more powerful than the 1906 San Fransisco shake up. Centered in cenral California, it cracked the ground for 200 miles. Rivers slid off course (in one case, backwards). Waves threw fish from lakes. Trees uprooted. Near the epicenter the fault moved thirty feet.
The death count? Only two (known). Almost nobody lived near the epicenter. In 1857 it was the middle of nowhere. The few who did live nearby had bizarre stories to tell.
Lots of people live in the danger area now. Parkfield, Wrightwood, Palmdale and possibly San Bernardino are in for a beating if that quake repeats itself. And I can't be to smug- the southern leg of the San Andreas (including this picture) hasn't jumped for centuries. Plus, like a crime boss, it has a network of underlings running through Los Angeles to help wreak the place.
Excuse me while I put on my crash helmet.

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