I feel the earth move under my feet

A Crack in the Edge of the WorldA Crack in the Edge of the WorldI’m reading Simon Winchester‘s book, A Crack in the Edge of the World, which describes the 1906 earthquake in California and the events and geologic theories around it. (The book is most notable perhaps because of its unique dust jacket, which unfolds into a huge, 55cm X 93cm poster.)

The man isn’t half long-winded — I’m already almost a third of the way through the book and he hasn’t gotten past the plate tectonic theory and his reminiscences about his travel to other geologic hot spots. Title aside, this is less a book about the Great Earthquake of 1906 than it is about plate tectonics and the turn of the 20th century in general. Once you get past your expectations, it’s actually an interesting read,and it took me back to my high school geology classes, reminding me why I’d considered geology as a potential career path.

In North America, you tend to think of earthquakes as being a distinctly West Coast thing, occurring only in the westernmost parts of the US and Canada. After all, the eastern and western edges of the North American Plate are in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and along the western coast of the continent respectively, thousands of miles from where we are. You forget (or never knew) that there are stress zones all over the place, crisscrossed with fault lines.  Continue reading “I feel the earth move under my feet”