I originally started 3 Cats Stalking to focus on things over which we humans had some control, but my first venture into the world of hurts was my book series on earthquakes (see the79scenario.com). I am still very interested in natural catastrophes.
This interest was heightened when a reviewer commented on my new book Was A Time When and said I allowed natural disasters to conveniently occur at times to enhance my story. Some people just don't understand that most of nature does not give a damn about when things happen, except when human beings start messing with the environment, like increasing the earth's temperature and changing the frequency and probability of big storms.
But I digress. I am concerned about our society's tendency to underestimate risk, and our surprise when something comes along to say things could be worse than we thought. Case in point below.
A friend alerted me to a piece on LA's NBC channel 4 about expected
earthquakes on the San Andraeus Fault here in California. I watched, and the news
reports were at best confusing and maybe misleading. Let me try to clarify.
This fault marks the boundary between the North American continental plate and the Pacific continental plate. Fractures along this fault are the primary drivers for all the minor and major earthquakes along the California coast. Most of the big earthquakes in the California recorded history have been the result of slipping along this fault or its children.
For the geo-caching or map-attracted RVers among us, this boundary runs from the Salton Sea through Indio through Palmdale through Gorman at Tejon Pass through Carrizo Plain National Monument west of Bakersfield to near Chalome on CA46 (road from Kettleman City on I-5 to Paso Robles) through Parkfield through San Benito TTN through San Juan Bautista to alongside the I-280 above Silicon Valley out to sea near Daly City (does not go under San Francisco) through Drake's Bay in Marin County through downtown Olema (epicenter of the 1906 earthquake) down the middle of Tomales Bay out to sea then up through Manchester Beach State Park and finally up to the area around the Sinkyone State Park where it merges with other faults out in the Pacific Ocean. I am sure many of you have driven near or over parts of this fracture in the earth's crust.
The area of interest in the news piece is the stretch south of Parkfield down to near Palmdale. This 160 mile section of the fault has historically shown a "steady" creep without producing any large events. Seismologists concluded that this section would prevent a large fracture starting in the south from traveling to the north, or vice versa. Therefore, if LA gets wiped, SF can come down and rescue us. Or if SF gets wiped, LA can go up and help them.
A scientific review of the giant fracture near Fukishima, Japan, where a similar creep zone was supposed to protect north from south and south from north has now indicated that the protection does not always work. It is possible for a fracture to continue through the creep zone, meaning both north and south get wiped. If that should happen, then there is no one left to help the neighbors. In other words, the calculated risk of a catastrophic event (based on what we have learned from the past) has just gone up by an appreciable amount.
Take a look at the article "Statewide Quake in California May Be Possible After All" by Erin Brown for a more detailed analysis.
What this means for my friends in southern California is that there could be a situation
where all of California is stricken with a gigantic earthquake, not just
southern California. It is less probable than just north or south being
stricken, but it is there. I have told them that instructions are still the same: keep your
earthquake kit handy and be prepared.