Lessons from the San Francisco Earthquake

A century after the San Francisco earthquake—which killed more people than the attacks on 9/11—geologists are preparing for the next Big One

From the local vista point known as Twin Peaks, Mary Lou Zoback, a senior scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), looks out on a breathtaking view of San Francisco--the gilded dome of City Hall, the diagonal stripe of Market Street, the little neighborhoods marching up and down steep hillsides. Slowly she pivots, taking in the sailboats on the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, the shimmering surface of the Pacific Ocean. Just out there--she points--a couple of miles offshore, lies the place where, early in the morning of April 18, 1906, the earth's crust cracked like an eggshell, unleashing what--even in the...

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