Science: California's Fate

A big quake in the offing?

Though California is plagued by frequent temblors, it has suffered only two major earthquakes in recorded history: the fabled and destructive San Francisco quake of 1906 and an even bigger shock in 1857, which rocked the then sparsely populated southern and central parts of the state. Now that California is the nation's most populous state, it could suffer incalculable damage and thousands of deaths in a major quake. Such a quake will almost certainly happen and, says a young California scientist, probably within the next half-century.

Kerry Sieh, 27, a Caltech geologist, bases his prediction on...

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