The Earthquake That Will Devastate Seattle
When the 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck Tohoku, Japan, Chris Goldfinger was two hundred miles away, in the city of Kashiwa, at an international meeting on seismology. As the shaking started, everyone in the room began to laugh. Earthquakes are common in Japan—that one was the third of the week—and the participants were, after all, at a seismology conference. Then everyone in the room checked the time. Seismologists know that how long an earthquake lasts is a decent proxy for its magnitude. The 1989 earthquake in Loma Prieta, California, which killed sixty-three people and caused six billion dollars’ worth of damage, lasted about fifteen seconds and had a magnitude of 6.9. When Goldfinger looked at his watch, it was quarter to three. It was March. Oh, shit, Goldfinger thought, although not in dread, at first: in amazement. For a moment, that was pretty cool: a real-time revolution in earthquake science. Just north of the San Andreas, however, lies another fault line. But it did not.
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