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A “gripping” look at the massive disasters that could strike at any moment, from a New York Times–bestselling author (San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle).
Far beneath the earth’s surface, great tectonic plates grind against one another with incredible pressure that must—inevitably—be released. Earthquakes manifest with little warning, upending buildings, shattering infrastructure, and unleashing devastating tsunamis. In this remarkable survey of the history of seismology and the extraordinary seismic events that have occurred in the United States, Mexico, China, and other locales, author John J. Nance traces the discoveries of the scientists who have dedicated their lives to understanding and predicting one of the deadliest threats known to mankind.
From the Pacific Northwest to the Midwest and the East Coast, most of the United States—not just California—is in danger of a massive quake, and few citizens are adequately prepared. Through riveting firsthand interviews with earthquake survivors, and with the same command of technical detail and gripping style that he brings to his New York Times–bestselling thrillers, Nance demonstrates the need for readiness—because the next big quake could happen tomorrow.
On the heels of T. A. Weppenheimer's The Coming Quake (Nonfiction Forecasts, Aug. 5) appears this excellent study by the author of Blind Trust , in part historical and in part admonitory. Nance goes into detail on the Alaskan quake of 1964, the last major seismic disaster in North America, and also furnishes information on the Mississippi Valley quake of 1811 and the one in Chile in 1960, showing how great the damage can be. He treats the history of seismology and its exponential growth in our century, alluding to two contemporary temblors that were predicted: Haicheng, China, in 1975 and Oaxaca, Mexico, in 1978. But while demonstrating that seismology is becoming an exact science, he also points out that the public is often deaf to the warnings of experts, citing the examples of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., and Anchorage, Alaska, where people have rebuilt on ground that has proved to be unsafe. With 39 states of the U.S. declared ``significant seismic hazard zones,'' Nance outlines ways to minimize disaster; his message merits wide attention. Photos not seen by PW.