Science: Pent-Up Fault

A famous possession in which California takes no particular pride is the San Andreas Fault, a great crack in the bedrock that leads from the Mexican border to Point Arena, no miles northwest of San Francisco, and out to sea. When the fault slips, it causes a major earthquake. Last week Seismologist Charles F. Richter of Caltech outraged chambers of commerce by warning that the San Andreas Fault has been gathering pressure for a major bust-loose.

Twice in recorded history the fault has relieved itself. In 1857, a serious earthquake centered around Fort Tejon,...

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