Thursday, August 9, 2007


We had a small earthquake in Los Angeles this morning: 4.6 centered in Chatsworth which is in the northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley. It woke my husband and I. I said "uh oh" as it started, and as it quickly subsided didn't worry too much about it.

It did remind me though that just the day before I had been overhearing a conversation at the gym where some guy was saying that people weren't aware that Manhattan lay on a major fault line, much worse than San Andreas, he said, and because the buildings in New York aren't built to the earthquake codes that we have in California when an earthquake hits there it will have devastating effects. New Yorkers often play one up on Los Angeles but in this case we've definetely got them beat. I happen to know that all of North America from the San Andreas in the west all the way to the Atlantic ridge in the east is one unified techtonic plate. Earthquakes can occur within the plate when pressure on either side pushes in toward the middle, but not to the severity that can occur between two plates as they slide together.

Later I looked it up. The last major earthquake to hit New York was in 1844, a 5.2 quake off the Far Roackaway shore in Queens. Although a quake of 6.0 or higher is possible and would be devastating it's highly unlikely. Los Angeles had a 6.7 earthquake in 1994 called the Northridge though the real epicenter was Reseda. I was here for that one, too, in Santa Monica. That was the first earthquake to strike directly beneath an American urban center since 1933 when a 6.4 hit in Long Beach.

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