Science: The Day San Francisco Is Hit

What would happen to the San Francisco Bay Area if it were hit by a major quake (8.3 on the Richter scale) during the evening rush hour? This question was posed by the Federal Office of Emergency Preparedness to leading earthquake experts. The following scenario summarizes their responses:

It is 4:30 in the afternoon, and San Francisco's evening rush hour has already begun. Thousands of cars are inching along the highways; cable cars, buses, BART trains and ferries are packed with people. Suddenly the earth begins to tremble and sway, accompanied by a roar that some people liken to the sound of...

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