Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Interesting Facts about California and Earth Quakes

Is California ready for the next big Earth Quake ? Listed below are some facts on Earth Quakes that have happened in California. Over the last few years we have had Major earth quakes all around the world in Chile, Haiti, New Zealand, Japan, Sumatra and the list goes on. It seems as if mother nature is trying to get our attention to tell us something.

California hasn't  had major earth quake since the North Ridge earth quake in 1994. All the experts say that California is due for a big one. Thomas O' Rourke of Cornell University who is a Geo technical Engineer said that it's " very very serious " the odds of California having a major earth quake in the near future. The tsunami from Japan reached the shores of California and caused around $20 million in damage. Will California be ready for a tsunami caused by the Cascadia Subduction Zone ? The Cascadia  Subduction Zone is where experts say the next big earth quake to hit California will come from not the San Andreas Fault.

Major Earthquakes in California

Though few records are available, the first major earthquake for California is believed to have occurred in 1769, probably near the San Andreas fault. It occurred in the Los Angeles area of California in which four violent shocks were felt. Some of the major earthquakes that occurred in California in the 20th century are:

• The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

On the morning of April 18, 1906, San Fransisco and the northern coast of California were shaken by a severe earthquake of a moment magnitude of 7.8. Dubbed as one of the worst natural disasters of its times, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake ruptured the San Andreas fault for over 296 miles. The epicenter is believed to have been somewhere close to Mussel Rock on the coast of Daly City. The earthquake caused around 3000 deaths and left 225,000 to 3000,000 people homeless. The earthquake and the ensuing fire destroyed over 80% of the city. By the 1900s San Francisco had developed as the financial and cultural center of the west. Although the city recovered quickly from the destruction, the earthquake diverted trade and population towards Los Angeles.

• The 1952 Kern County Earthquake

The Kern County Earthquake of 1952 occurred on the White Wolf fault that lies to the north of where the San Andreas and the Garlock faults intersect. It measured 7.5 on the moment magnitude scale and was the second strongest earthquake of the century after the 1906 San Fransisco earthquake. It killed 12 people and caused damage to property worth over $50 million.

• The 1971 San Fernando Earthquake

Also known as the Sylmar earthquake, this earthquake hit the San Fernando Valley near Sylmar in the early morning of February 9, 1971. The earthquake with a moment magnitude of 6.6, caused 65 deaths and damage to property worth over $500 million. Most of the deaths were caused due to the collapse of Veteran's Administration Hospital at San Fernando and the Olive View Community Hospital in Sylmar. The earthquake caused a total surface rupture of 19 kilometers and a dip of up to 2 meters.

• The 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake

The Loma Prieta earthquake was a destructive earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area of California on October 17, 1989. It measured 6.9 on the moment magnitude scale and destroyed property worth $6 billion. It killed over 3000 people and rendered 8,000 to 12,000 people homeless.

• The 1994 Northridge Earthquake

On the morning of January 17, 1994, a strong earthquake measuring 6.7 on the moment magnitude scale hit Los Angeles. The earthquake that lasted for 20 seconds produced the strongest ground motions ever felt in urban America. Major freeways and office buildings collapsed. The earthquake injured as many as 8700 people and caused loss of $25 billion to property. Although the epicenter of the earthquake was in Resada, it is referred to as the Northridge Earthquake due to the large scale destruction it caused in that area.

Nuclear power plant accidents in the U.S. with more than US$140 million in property damage

March 28, 1979 Middletown, Pennsylvania, US Loss of coolant and partial core meltdown, see Three Mile Island accident and Three Mile Island accident health effects

March 9, 1985 Athens, Alabama, US Instrumentation systems malfunction during startup, which led to suspension of operations at all three Browns Ferry Units

April 11, 1986 Plymouth, Massachusetts, US Recurring equipment problems force emergency shutdown of Boston Edison’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant

March 31, 1987 Delta, Pennsylvania, US Peach Bottom units 2 and 3 shutdown due to cooling malfunctions and unexplained equipment problems

December 19, 1987 Lycoming, New York, US Malfunctions force Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation to shut down Nine Mile Point Unit 1

February 20, 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US Leaking valve forces shutdown Millstone Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 and 2, multiple equipment failures found

September 2, 1996 Crystal River, Florida, US Balance-of-plant equipment malfunction forces shutdown and extensive repairs at Crystal River Unit 3

February 16, 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US Severe corrosion of control rod forces 24-month outage of Davis-Besse reactor

February 1, 2010 Vernon, Vermont, US Deteriorating underground pipes from the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant leak radioactive tritium into groundwater supplies

1 comment:

  1. It's very interesting. Anyway despite this risk I'd like to see one day California, it's dream from childhood.