News From the Underground

Recent quakes in California may have stirred the San Andreas Fault, setting it up for the long-dreaded Big One

"Talk about bad luck!" says Caltech geologist Brian Wernicke, squinting through a telescopic eyepiece at an aerial photo of Landers, California, a small town in the middle of the Mojave desert. "Wham! Right through this house. Wham! Right through that house. The funny thing is, there aren't that many houses out here."

In more ways than one, the earthquake that rumbled through this desolate region on June 28 was an ominous force. In a few fearsome seconds, it rerouted roads, realigned parking lots and reconfigured the landscape in countless capricious ways, miraculously taking only one life. Rather than rupture a single...

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