The Susceptibility of California to Earthquakes

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People tremble when they hear the word: destruction, devastation, or losses while those are only the first words that come to mind when an Earthquake occurs. Earthquakes can be terrifying; the earth that had seemed so reassuringly solid and stable suddenly lurches, disrupting people’s both physical and emotional balance. Skyscrapers sway visibly, sound buildings and bridges collapse, power lines spark, gas lines rupture, and landslides scar hillsides and alter the course of the rivers. For years throughout recorded history, earthquakes have disrupted all expectations of normalcy and have imposed an adverse impact on various places around the world, killing over “3.5 million people” on average during the past two millennia (Marshak 218).

Earthquakes have impacted many areas in the United States, especially along the western coast in states like Alaska, Hawaii, and California. California is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because it is located on the famous San Andreas Fault in the very seismically active Ring of Fire. Earthquake hazards are also prominent in many other regions across the United States including the Rocky Mountain region, the New Madrid Seismic Zone (a portion of the central United States), as well as portions of the eastern seaboard, specifically South Carolina. Close to “75 million people in 39 states” face considerable and recurring risks from contemporary earthquakes (Monahan 2). Owing to the destructive effects of California’s earthquakes in the past few decades and generally around the world, scientists have made an effort to locate and measure the size of an earthquake, predict a location’s vulnerability to earthquakes, and develop seismic warning systems in an attempt to reduce potential losses in...

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...ierra Nevada on west and Mojave Desert on east (Fig.X). The topography of the province is largely characterized by “abrupt changes in elevation,” causing a wide range of elevation values. These include the province’s highest point which lies east of Owens valley, at an elevation of 4,341 meters above sea level, and the lowest point in the United States located in the famous Death Valley basin, 86 meters below sea level (Harden, 130). Throughout the province, many range-front faults are found. Range-front faults are young faults that are formed along the edge of an uplifting mountain range. The fact that most of the range-front faults, found in the basin, are normal faults has led geologists to believe that the repeated vertical motion along the normal fault systems is the major cause of the characteristic basin’s topography. Some of these faults are active faults.
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