Plate Tectonics: A whole new way of looking at your planet
by Keyword

The Book  
Table of Contents
In the Beginning
The Tectonic Plates
Mount St. Helen
How Plates Move
Plate Boundaries
A Changing Earth
Pangaea - All Lands
Mid-Ocean Ridges
An Ocean is Born
The Birth of an Island
Mountain Ranges
Subduction Zones
Island Arcs
The Ring of Fire
Hot Spots
Mantle Plumes
Origin of Life Theories
Global Climate
Other Worlds
Welcome to Your World


On April 18, 1906, the stress and friction built up for over one hundred years along the San Andreas Fault was released during a cataclysmic tectonic event. In less than a minute, one plate jumped 20 feet northward along a 270-mile stretch of the fault. The result was the infamous San Francisco earthquake of 1906. The quake, which lasted only one minute and measured 8.3 on the Richter scale, claimed over 700 lives and left 250,000 homeless, as fire consumed almost five square miles in the heart of the city.

In 1989, a San Francisco earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale killed 67 people, and in a few short moments of crustal realignment, billions of dollars of damage were levied on a city. But that damage paled in comparison to the damage incurred by the people of Armenia that same year when Armenia also suffered a tremor measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale. But because of the poor building construction methods and standards in Armenia, the death toll rose to over 30,000. And in 1993, 28,000 people perished in an instant when an earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale leveled several small towns in south-central India, near the Deccan Plateau.

With all of our accumulated knowledge regarding the forces that shape our planet, scientists are still unable to foresee an impending earthquake or predict cataclysmic tectonic events. There is much yet to know.
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