The apolcalyptic Japanese earthquake (8.9 to 9.1-magnitude) which struck on March 11 at 2:46 p.m. local time — the world’s fifth-largest since 1900 and the biggest in Japan in 140 years — has reminded Californians that perhaps the “Big One”, as we have nicknamed the next big California earthquake, could hit California in the next 30 years*. The question on Californians’ minds right now is…could we be next?
8 hours after the earthquake in Japan, the Tsunami surges hit the coast of California where it caused over $50 million worth of damage (It raced across the Pacific at 500 mph _ as fast as a jetliner _ before hitting Hawaii and the West Coast). Sirens sounded for hours on the islands and the West Coast before dawn and roadways and beaches were mostly empty as the tsunami struck.. Watch a group of Californians in the Northern California town of Crescent City watching the ocean water quickly flooding a harbor and toppling boats (of course the damage and sights are nothing compared to what happened in Japan). See if you can hear what they say as the shock and stupor take hold of the spectators who fear the same catastrophe could hit California in the next 30 years* (script on Answers and Tips page):
Listen to a man who is filming the surge off the coast in Northern California. He watches 2 rocks in front of him as they are covered by the quickly moving waves. He is astonished at the speed and the height of the waves which are taller than he is (probably more than 8 feet high). See if you can make out what he says (the sound is drowned out by the noise of the waves and the pounding surf) (click here):
*There hasn’t been a huge earthquake in California since the one which destroyed San Francisco at 5:12 AM on April 18, 1906. Researchers have calculated a 20 to 70 percent probability that southern California will be hit by a large earthquake in the next 30 years. The forecast is based on the frequency of past events. The San Andreas Fault is the sliding boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate. It slices California in two from Cape Mendocino to the Mexican border. San Diego, Los Angeles and Big Sur are on the Pacific Plate. San Francisco, Sacramento and the Sierra Nevada are on the North American Plate. Being about 28 million years old, rock from great distances have been juxtaposed against rocks from very different locations and origins. The Salinian block of granite in central and northern California originated in Southern California, and some even say northern Mexico.
Californians regularly have earthquake drills to know what to do during a disaster. Crescent City printed the following rules on its Internet site to instruct people on what to do if an Tsunami strikes: How to Survive a Tsunami.
Our hearts go out to Japan and as the world focuses on this enormous disaster we realize how powerless we are against the forces of nature….