Science: A Shock to Seismologists

Jolting as it was for Californians, last week's earthquake was even more of a shock to scientists. In a typical year, the Golden State is the site of 300 noticeable quakes, and seismologists have long predicted that a major quake is overdue. Yet the San Fernando quake struck an area that has been seismically inactive at least since the end of the last Ice Age—about 10,000 years ago. The region was still trembling when scores of scientists arrived with their portable instruments, anxious to find out why they had been caught so completely by...

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