How the 1906 Earthquake Marked the Dawn of Understanding Earthquakes and the Study of the San Andreas Fault in California Essay

824 WordsJul 23, 20144 Pages
How the 1906 Earthquake Marked the Dawn of Understanding Earthquakes And the Study of the San Andreas Fault in California On the morning of April 18, 1906 at approximately 5:12 in the morning, the city of San Francisco was awoken to one of the most devastating earthquakes in the history of California. The earthquake and subsequent fires caused an estimated 3,000 deaths and over half of the city’s residents were left homeless, and the once wealthiest and most important cities on the Pacific Coast was turned to ashes and ruins (Zoback). Before 1906, little was known or understood about earthquakes, how and where they occurred, or the risk they posed. Although the 1906 earthquake manifested a groundbreaking and tragic event in California, it should also be remembered as the birth of modern scientific study of the San Andreas Fault system in California. Professor and Chairman of the geology department at UC Berkeley, Andrew C. Lawson, was appointed to lead the first integrated, government-commissioned scientific investigation into earthquakes in the United States, funded by the Carnegie Institute of Washington (USGS). The final report by the Commission was published in 1908 and is now commonly referred to as the Lawson report. Over twenty scientists contributed to the detailed report on the earthquake’s damage, the movement on the San Andreas Fault, the seismograph records, and the fundamental geology in Northern California. The exhaustive report also incudes many photographs, specified maps, and data from studies of the earth’s movement in the earthquake alongside the San Andreas Fault (USGS). The Lawson report is still approvingly favored among seismologists, geologists, and engineers as a standard for future and unified studies into the effects of earthquakes in the United States. According to Mary Lou Zoback, in her article in the U.S. Geological Survey,

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