Still Waiting for the Big One

The science of quake prediction is improving, but don't bet on it

Even as the earth rocked and rolled, California's army of seismologists rallied into action. In Berkeley, University of California graduate student Anthony Lomax felt the sidewalk shiver and watched telephone poles sway, then rushed to his seismographic station. "The instruments were off-scale!" he marveled. Within minutes the scientists on duty had pinpointed the epicenter of the quake in the rugged Santa Cruz mountains some 50 miles away. The spot was no surprise: it lay on the San Andreas fault, a great gash in the earth that extends nearly the length of the California coast. Even before the quake, the Santa Cruz...

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