Format Hardcover
Publication Date 02/15/14
ISBN 9781605984957
Trim Size / Pages 9.3 x 6.4 in / 352

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Earthquake Storms

The Fascinating History and Volatile Future of the San Andreas Fault

John Dvorak

The lives of millions will be changed after it breaks, and yet so few people understand it, or even realize it runs through their backyard. Dvorak reveals the San Andreas Fault’s fascinating history—and it’s volatile future.

It is a prominent geological feature that is almost impossible to see unless you know where to look. Hundreds of thousands of people drive across it every day. The San Andreas Fault is everywhere, and primed for a colossal quake. For decades, scientists have warned that such a sudden shifting of the Earth’s crust is inevitable. In fact, it is a geologic necessity. The San Andreas fault runs almost the entire length of California, from the redwood forest to the east edge of the Salton Sea. Along the way, it passes through two of the largest urban areas of the country—San Francisco and Los Angeles. Dozens of major highways and interstates cross it. Scores of housing developments have been planted over it. The words “San Andreas” are so familiar today that they have become synonymous with earthquake. Yet, few people understand the San Andreas or the network of subsidiary faults it has spawned. Some run through Hollywood, others through Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. The Hayward fault slices the football stadium at the University of California in half. Even among scientists, few appreciate that the San Andreas fault is a transient, evolving system that, as seen today, is younger than the Grand Canyon and key to our understanding of earthquakes worldwide.

Dr. John Dvorak, PhD, worked on volcanoes and earthquakes for the U.S. Geological Survey, first at Mount St. Helens, then as a series of assignments in California, Hawaii, Italy, Indonesia, Central America and Alaska. He has written cover stories for Scientific American, Physics Today and Astronomy magazines, as well as a series of essays about earthquakes and volcanoes for American Scientist. Dvorak has taught at the University of Hawaii and lectured at UCLA, Washington University in St. Louis, the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C, among others

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Endorsements & Reviews

“Much of their enlightenment occurred in California, and the author turns up half a dozen intrepid, eccentric and largely unknown geologists (Grove Gilbert, Andrew Lawson, Charles Richter, Harry Fielding Reid) whose insights began to converge after the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake. A fine popular primer on the subject, lucidly written and no more technical than necessary.” Kirkus Reviews
“Dvorak has done earthquake science sterling service by writing what is unarguably the best, the most comprehensive and compellingly readable book about the great fault, America's 800 mile long seismic danger zone, that will one day affect all of our lives.” Simon Winchester, New York Times Bestselling author of The Crack at the Edge of the World and Krakatoa
“A welcome addition. Its chief strength lies in combining the lives and personalities of key geologists and seismologists, such as Lawson, Charles Richter, John Tuzo Wilson and Kerry Sieh, with the theoretical essentials and practical details of their scientific work, so that the former really do illuminate the latter.” Geoscientist Magazine
“A lively key to understanding the nature of faults, quakes, the San Andreas in particular, and the scientists who made stormy careers out of investigating some of the most elusive geologic mysteries in history.” Midwest Book Review
“A massive earthquake is overdue at the southern end of the San Andreas Fault. Conditions are right for the Big One to hit a 100-mile segment of the fault that would be felt from San Diego to Los Angeles. But the problem is being able to pinpoint when the quake may strike. . . .” NPR
“The real strength of Earthquake Storms is the clear and comprehensive treatment of geology as well as history, and offers a fascinating up-close look at the often overlooked people and stories behind science. Lastly, the book leaves readers in California with a bottom line as sobering as it is unassailable: We might not know exactly what storms lie ahead, but during all of our lifetimes, we have only ever known the lull.” Susan Hough, former director of the Seismology Laboratory at CalTech EARTH Magazine
“Eventually such a release will result in a major earthquake. Dvorak posits that the last 100 years in California have been relatively quiet seismologically, but he notes other major fault systems, such as in Turkey, that were quiet for a period and then released their accumulated stress in a series of major earthquakes—a seismic storm. These storms can last for decades or centuries until the stress is released; the San Andreas Fault may be ripe for such a series. A must read for earthquake buffs—and West Coast residents.” Library Journal
“Scientist and author John Dvorak recounts California’s precarious relationship with the tectonic boundary between the Pacific and North American plates. Recommended follow-up reading for all Californians includes any manual on surviving the end of civilization or the zombie apocalypse.” Los Angeles Magazine
Earthquake Storms reads like good sci-fi, with colorful characters making startling discoveries.” The Honolulu Star