Friday, September 5, 2014

Day After Disaster, Ready For the Big Shakedown?

In the past three hundred and fourteen years there have been about eighty earthquakes in the United States that have registered over a 3.8 magnitude. These quakes don’t just happen in California. They have been recorded in Alaska, Wyoming, Maine, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Washington, Texas, Oregon, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Nevada, South Carolina, Kansas, Missouri, Massachusetts, and others. Clearly, no one is immune.

Cascadia Earthquake

From Flickr: Paul Wilkinson License
Over the past history of the United States we have had some big quakes. One of the most ancient earthquakes that we know happened in the United States is the Cascadia Earthquake of 1700.  There were not written records back then but we know it happened because of Japanese tsunami records, Native American lore, and Dendrochronology or the study of tree wrings. The scientist have found that there was a large population of red cedar trees that died because the coastal forest that they called home was lowered into the tidal zone where they could not sustain life. The rings have also shown that one of these “great quakes” happens in the Cascadia Subduction Zone about every five hundred years. Currently we are at year three hundred and fourteen. With our modern technology many coastal cities in this zone are aware of the tsunami danger and earthquake danger and have prepared well. The major threat turns to the inland cities of Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Victoria and Tacoma that have not been build to sustain an earthquake of this magnitude and have many vulnerable buildings and bridges.

The New Madrid Earthquake

From Flickr: Towne Post Network License
The New Madrid Earthquake was a massive quake on the east coast of the United States. The quake that started out the series of events happened on December 16th of 1811. This initial shaking was felt over fifty thousand square miles away (130,000 sq km). There were four main quakes. The first of which took place in Arkansas. The following three happened in Missouri. The destruction involved the ground being grossly contorted, fissures splaying the landscape, stream banks caving in and areas being flooded. The last quake absolutely demolished the town of New Madrid, did severe damage to St. Louis, and reversed the flow of the Mississippi River for a time. Luckily the area was much more sparsely populated than it is today. In 2008 the Federal Emergency Management Agency looked into the effect that an event of this magnitude would have on the much more populated region of today. They concluded that a similar event would cause severe damage to the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee, resulting in the highest economic loss due to natural disaster ever. Building codes in these states were not designed to withstand earthquakes. The loss of property and life would be devastating.

From Flickr: CIR Online License

1906 San Francisco Earthquake

Probably the most famous earthquake of all that happened in the United States was the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Over three thousand people died in the event, mostly due to the catastrophic fires that ensued after the quake. Fifty five percent of the people in the ninth largest city in the United States were left homeless. Eighty percent of largest city on the West Coast at the time and the center of financial, cultural and trade activities was demolished. The economic results of this event were an overwhelming four hundred million in 1906 or eight point two billion today. Geologists found the culprit of the disaster, the San Andreas Fault. Architects designed “earthquake proof” structures for the city. San Francisco has tried to prepare for the inevitable next time.

Earthquakes in Day After Disaster

There have been many more earthquakes over the history of the United States and the world. They accompany most other types of natural disasters as well. If a volcano erupts, there are earthquakes. If you build a reservoir, there are earthquakes. If the earth plates shift, there are earthquakes. The list goes on and on.

In the novel Day After Disaster the main antagonistic natural disaster was a series of earthquakes for that reason, they accompany most other disasters. The book was written on more of a micro-view of a mega disaster. You see the event as it is unfolding from the point of view of one character trying to survive the event. The character does not know what happened in the big picture of the world to cause these quakes. All she knows is they are happening and she must survive and find out if her family is still alive. In the novel, the characters are not receiving any kind of assistance from the outside world, which tips them off that the problem must be very widespread. The true cause of the earthquakes will be revealed in the sequel to the novel and the next book in The Changing Earth Series.

Current Earthquake Activity
All this discussion about mega-earthquakes might cause you to wonder if there is an increase in activity lately. The media seems to always have a story on an earthquake occurring somewhere in the world. Ricard Mankiewicz examines this question in his blog post why so many earthquakes this decade. He found that the reason people think there is an increase going on is because they are receiving more media information on occurrences. Scientifically, there is no evidence that there is an increase over the past decade and the quakes worldwide are fairly consistent. One interesting place to check out to see if an earthquake is calculated to happen near you anytime soon is They use a mathematical algorithm to predict the future earthquakes that will happen world wide between now and 2042. They have made many correct predictions so it is worth taking a look at. 

Current News Regarding the Possiblity of a Mega Quake in the Central United States

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Sara F. Hathaway
Sara F. Hathaway is the author of the The Changing Earth Series: Day After Disaster and Without Land. She also hosts The Changing Earth Podcast which blends her fictional stories with educational survival tips. Sara grew up in the country where she developed a profound interest in the natural world around her. After graduating with honors from The California State University of Sacramento with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, she launched into a career in business management. In her fictional novels her research and experience with survival techniques and forgotten life-sustaining methods of the generations past come to the forefront in a action packed adventures. She has used her background in business management to pave new roads for fictional authors to follow and she delights in helping other achieve the same success. She currently lives with her husband and two sons in California where she is at work on the sequel to her first two novels. For more information and a free copy of “The Go-Bag Essentials” featuring everything you need to have to leave your home in a disaster visit:
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