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Earthquake Storms: An Unauthorized Biography of the San Andreas Fault

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It is a prominent geological feature that is almost impossible to see unless you know where to look. Hundreds of thousands of people drive across it every day. The San Andreas Fault is everywhere, and primed for a colossal quake. For decades, scientists have warned that such a sudden shifting of the Earth’s crust is inevitable. In fact, it is a geologic necessity. The San A It is a prominent geological feature that is almost impossible to see unless you know where to look. Hundreds of thousands of people drive across it every day. The San Andreas Fault is everywhere, and primed for a colossal quake. For decades, scientists have warned that such a sudden shifting of the Earth’s crust is inevitable. In fact, it is a geologic necessity. The San Andreas Fault runs almost the entire length of California, from the redwood forest to the east edge of the Salton Sea. Along the way, it passes through two of the largest urban areas of the country—San Francisco and Los Angeles. Dozens of major highways and interstates cross it. Scores of housing developments have been planted over it. The words “San Andreas” are so familiar today that they have become synonymous with earthquake. Yet, few people understand the San Andreas or the network of subsidiary faults it has spawned. Some run through Hollywood, others through Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. The Hayward fault slices the football stadium at the University of California in half. Even among scientists, few appreciate that the San Andreas Fault is a transient, evolving system that, as seen today, is younger than the Grand Canyon and key to our understanding of earthquakes worldwide.


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It is a prominent geological feature that is almost impossible to see unless you know where to look. Hundreds of thousands of people drive across it every day. The San Andreas Fault is everywhere, and primed for a colossal quake. For decades, scientists have warned that such a sudden shifting of the Earth’s crust is inevitable. In fact, it is a geologic necessity. The San A It is a prominent geological feature that is almost impossible to see unless you know where to look. Hundreds of thousands of people drive across it every day. The San Andreas Fault is everywhere, and primed for a colossal quake. For decades, scientists have warned that such a sudden shifting of the Earth’s crust is inevitable. In fact, it is a geologic necessity. The San Andreas Fault runs almost the entire length of California, from the redwood forest to the east edge of the Salton Sea. Along the way, it passes through two of the largest urban areas of the country—San Francisco and Los Angeles. Dozens of major highways and interstates cross it. Scores of housing developments have been planted over it. The words “San Andreas” are so familiar today that they have become synonymous with earthquake. Yet, few people understand the San Andreas or the network of subsidiary faults it has spawned. Some run through Hollywood, others through Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. The Hayward fault slices the football stadium at the University of California in half. Even among scientists, few appreciate that the San Andreas Fault is a transient, evolving system that, as seen today, is younger than the Grand Canyon and key to our understanding of earthquakes worldwide.

30 review for Earthquake Storms: An Unauthorized Biography of the San Andreas Fault

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    This book is almost entirely focused on California, with a bit of discussion about other great quakes in world history. It is lucidly written and easily understandable to the lay person. The book covers both the geology of the San Andreas Fault and the history including such people as Grover Gilbert, Harry Fielding Reid who studied the 1906 San Francisco quake. Andrew Larson a geology professor at the University of California Berkeley who named the San Andreas Fault in 1895. Of course, Charles R This book is almost entirely focused on California, with a bit of discussion about other great quakes in world history. It is lucidly written and easily understandable to the lay person. The book covers both the geology of the San Andreas Fault and the history including such people as Grover Gilbert, Harry Fielding Reid who studied the 1906 San Francisco quake. Andrew Larson a geology professor at the University of California Berkeley who named the San Andreas Fault in 1895. Of course, Charles Richter who developed the eponymous magnitude scale was discussed in detail. Dvorak describes the history of all the known California quakes but goes into great detail about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. He explains the 1960 discovery of plate tectonics and how that brought better understanding to the geology of California and the understanding of earthquakes. He almost makes a guide to where to go and what to look at along with what is the meaning of what you are looking at along various site of the San Andreas Fault. He gives a description how the San Andreas Fault works and how other fault secondary fault lines develop. He states that the San Andreas Fault and its many subsidiary faults are tearing California apart. He says geological California has been in a quiet time for quakes but according to past history this is going to change. Dvorak apparently worked for the U.S. Geological Survey. Overall I found this to be a most fascinating book. Malcolm Hillgartner did a great job narrating the book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Charlene

    This is an exquisitely beautiful history of how humans came to understand the inner workings of our planet earth. Dvorak's book wasn't even on my radar until I saw it in my feed because a friend added it to read. It turned out to be the history of geology and dynamic Earth that I didn't realize I needed to know. Years ago I fell in love with geology after taking an intro to geology class, only because it was a requirement and the class I really wanted, cosmology, was full. During that semester, This is an exquisitely beautiful history of how humans came to understand the inner workings of our planet earth. Dvorak's book wasn't even on my radar until I saw it in my feed because a friend added it to read. It turned out to be the history of geology and dynamic Earth that I didn't realize I needed to know. Years ago I fell in love with geology after taking an intro to geology class, only because it was a requirement and the class I really wanted, cosmology, was full. During that semester, I began to realize that the discovery of Earth's crazy way of becoming and remaining active was as exciting as any exploration into space. The main reason I fell in love with geology is because it made me realize that the sun made Earth; and thus, Earth's cycles are controlled by the sun. Earth made living organisms; and thus, our cycles (eating, sleeping, mating, living, dying, etc) are controlled by Earth. But how? And why? Who knew that so many of the answers could be found in rocks, in Earth's core, and in its deep and mysterious waters? The author doesn't focus on all of these questions, but what he does speak to, he addresses with such beauty. This book primarily focuses on how humans came to understand the dynamic nature of the moving rocks that make up the crust of Earth. Dvorak provides a wonderful history of all of the people who have contributed to our understanding so far. The history is played out in this book like a cast of characters in a movie I came to know and love. Dvorak offers excellent personal information on each person who contributed to answering questions such as, 'What could earthquakes teach us?,' 'What actions could we take during earthquakes to learn more about them?,' 'What was going on at the mid ocean ridges?', 'How did humans begin to understand plate tectonics?', 'What were the personal lives of the researchers like?', 'How much did sexism affect the study of plate tectonics?', 'What were each of the discoveries that added to our full understanding of how the earth's crust works?' and more. I hope this author writes more about geology. I am immediately going to start reading another book by him. I loved this book much more than I imagined I would.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Written by a subject matter expert, this told the history behind the initial studies of the San Andreas fault, and outlined the conclusions and theories that were developed. Initially, ca. 1906, no one knew the sources of earthquakes, or their full effects. Prevailing opinions were that underground volcanic events caused them, and their effects were to cause the earth to move vertically only. With vast amounts of observational data -- acquired on foot in the era before aerial capabilities -- evi Written by a subject matter expert, this told the history behind the initial studies of the San Andreas fault, and outlined the conclusions and theories that were developed. Initially, ca. 1906, no one knew the sources of earthquakes, or their full effects. Prevailing opinions were that underground volcanic events caused them, and their effects were to cause the earth to move vertically only. With vast amounts of observational data -- acquired on foot in the era before aerial capabilities -- evidence accumulated that demonstrated there was also a horizontal shift. Sometimes over 10's or 100's of miles. As might be expected, the geological community had trouble accepting this. Long horizontal sifts seemed to be an impossibility -- but the data eventually won out. Since the early days, observational capabilities have improved dramatically and vast reserves of measured data have been acquired. Intense data analysis is ongoing in an attempt to allow earthquake prediction, a hugely difficult task to achieve. The author explains this, outlines why prediction is not currently possible, and avoids comments about future capabilities. Problem is, we just don't have good prediction methods that we can trust, and may not for a long time to come. A very readable, although deep, book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    David Schwan

    This book tells us about the San Andreas Fault through stories about the people who have studied it. The science of seismology made huge strides through the contributions of geologists studying the San Andreas Fault. For people who like California history this is an informative book. The author is well known as a journalist covering the computer industry and has written an insightful book about earthquakes in California.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mary & Tom

    I love the Palm Springs/Joshua Tree area, so I was sorry to learn that this area has a 59% chance of a major earthquake in the next 30 years. This quake would be along the lines of the quake that rocked San Francisco in 1906. This book is really about the development of seismology as a science and the development of tools to measure and study earthquakes like the Richter Scale. Very interesting reading about the various faults the are spread across California. However, examples of other earthqua I love the Palm Springs/Joshua Tree area, so I was sorry to learn that this area has a 59% chance of a major earthquake in the next 30 years. This quake would be along the lines of the quake that rocked San Francisco in 1906. This book is really about the development of seismology as a science and the development of tools to measure and study earthquakes like the Richter Scale. Very interesting reading about the various faults the are spread across California. However, examples of other earthquakes sites are used to help explain concepts. My advice would be to have a map of California nearby as you read this book or be very familiar with the locations of cities, towns, and geographical features of the state. You will also need access to a dictionary especially for Chapter 8 if you aren't familiar with the terminology of geology. I enjoyed this book and learned quite a bit about the development of the continents and other features such as mountain ranges. Also, of course about the quest to better predict and prepare for the inevitable earthquakes.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Eric B. Kennedy

    The premise of this book is as commonplace as it is engaging: California is due for the 'big one,' and when it strikes, it will have dire consequences. In "Earthquake Storms," John Dvorak explores the seismicity of California through the San Andreas (and several other nearby) faults. It's part geology and part history, spending just as much time tracing Richter and Eastwood and other characters as tracing the geography and geology of the faults themselves. In that sense, it's a strong - if remark The premise of this book is as commonplace as it is engaging: California is due for the 'big one,' and when it strikes, it will have dire consequences. In "Earthquake Storms," John Dvorak explores the seismicity of California through the San Andreas (and several other nearby) faults. It's part geology and part history, spending just as much time tracing Richter and Eastwood and other characters as tracing the geography and geology of the faults themselves. In that sense, it's a strong - if remarkably American- and California-centric - introduction to earthquake history and science. It's also, in many ways, a typical pop-sci meets disaster book. The history and science comes fast and furious through quick, engaging vignettes. This format helps to hook the reader, but it also leaves the reader a little discombobulated at the end of it all: it's difficult to keep stories straight and characters in mind after such brief visits. There are two things that I wish were done differently in the book. First, for a book that's entirely about situating places, it's criminally inexcusable that the volume doesn't include a single godforsaken map. Even as someone who has spent a fair bit of time in the US Southwest, it was doggone difficult to keep up with mental drawing out fault lines via semi-obscure landmarks. The addition of twenty-something black and white maps, indicating faults and other features, co-located with Dvorak's discussions, would have made the book so much more readable and useful. Second, Dvorak's titular thesis (that future earthquakes in California might emerge as earthquake storms) almost feels like it deserves to be hidden as a spoiler. It only really makes an appearance in the last two chapters, feeling more like an afterthought than a compelling exploration. Up until the last 30 pages, earthquakes and faults are treated as entirely individual entities, never interacting. As such, this suggestion that 'perhaps we could see an earthquake storm devastate California!' comes across more as a cheap climax than a well-reasoned argument that the reader has been led to. That said, this is still a fun and readable introduction to earthquake science. It's provincial, sure, but it will feed you many intriguing tidbits about the San Andreas and the story of how we've come to understand earthquakes today.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    Thank you to Net Galley and Open Road Media for an ARC for an unbiased review! Earthquake Storms is a brief look at the history of the San Andres fault in California. The book includes brief biographical details about major researchers, history of the faults oldest earthquakes, future earthquakes and the scientific tools used in the measurements of the daily life of the San Andres. If you’re looking for a whistle blowing publication, you should look elsewhere. Dvorak develops facts based on scie Thank you to Net Galley and Open Road Media for an ARC for an unbiased review! Earthquake Storms is a brief look at the history of the San Andres fault in California. The book includes brief biographical details about major researchers, history of the faults oldest earthquakes, future earthquakes and the scientific tools used in the measurements of the daily life of the San Andres. If you’re looking for a whistle blowing publication, you should look elsewhere. Dvorak develops facts based on scientific research and gives the reader a brief introduction into the academic world of earth sciences. The book only briefly touches upon future predictions, and even then, does not overestimate the magnitude or damage caused by the next big movement San Andres event. It was refreshing to learn about the history of California’s interest in earth sciences: from the gold rush, to the modern day desire for earthquake warning systems. The book briefly explains Grover Gilbert, Harry Fielding Reid and the origin of the term “Richter Scale”. In the more fascinating portion of the book we learn about the breaking up of Pangaea, the development of today’s island rings, and the role of plate tectonics on the development of mountains, the sea bed floor and the coast lines. Everything an average reader would want to learn about our planet. My only concern is the last chapter or two were very technical. I understood about 20% of Dvorak’s explanations and descriptions of the mineral deposits, rock formations and landscape. I have never been to California, much of the descriptions were confusing and not as useful to my understanding as a Californian native. I would highly suggest this book to a person who has very little understanding of plate tectonics, and the history of earthquake research. The book covers all the basics in easy to understand lingo, and down to earth descriptions (no pun intended).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Barb

    I really enjoyed this book. Before reading “Earthquake Storms” I knew very little about earthquakes. The author began right where I was – at square one. He went all the way back to the time when even the scientists knew almost nothing about why or how earthquakes occurred. I found it great reading as he opened a new world to me. Mr. Dvorak discussed the specific people who studied earthquakes during their lifetimes. Some of them are well known and some are not. Someone I found of interest was Cha I really enjoyed this book. Before reading “Earthquake Storms” I knew very little about earthquakes. The author began right where I was – at square one. He went all the way back to the time when even the scientists knew almost nothing about why or how earthquakes occurred. I found it great reading as he opened a new world to me. Mr. Dvorak discussed the specific people who studied earthquakes during their lifetimes. Some of them are well known and some are not. Someone I found of interest was Charles Richter since he was the only one I had heard of before. He had a very unusual life and accomplished much. The book mainly discusses the San Andreas Fault and that was extremely interesting. But I would love to see him write another book mainly about the New Madrid Fault since I am close enough to be impacted by that one. I had always heard that when the “big one” hits, California will slide into the ocean. However, I gather from this book that a different scenario could occur. I will provide a quote from the author that explains this further. “According to the California Geological Survey, there are more than 700 different faults scattered across California that have ruptured in the last 10,000 years. California is indeed, earthquake country.” “This also provides a view as to the future of the state of California. It is not going to fall catastrophically into the ocean, as some doomsday predictions profess, but it is being sliced and slid apart incrementally, most of the sliding occurring during the occasional larger earthquake.” I highly recommend this book. It is informative, but it is also a great read. I was provided a free copy of this book for review from Pegasus Books and Net Gallery. I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dee Eisel

    The subtitle of this one is "The Fascinating History and Volatile Nature of the San Andreas Fault," but that's not really accurate. What Dvorak gives us is, indeed, as much of the history of the fault as we cleanly have. He does this by going into the biographies of several of the geologists who have researched the fault over the last two hundred years, which is much more fun. Anyone who knows me knows I'm a sucker for the San Andreas system. Dvorak does his due diligence, of course, in pointing The subtitle of this one is "The Fascinating History and Volatile Nature of the San Andreas Fault," but that's not really accurate. What Dvorak gives us is, indeed, as much of the history of the fault as we cleanly have. He does this by going into the biographies of several of the geologists who have researched the fault over the last two hundred years, which is much more fun. Anyone who knows me knows I'm a sucker for the San Andreas system. Dvorak does his due diligence, of course, in pointing out the various faults which are actually a bigger risk than their more famous cousin. (For example, see pretty much the whole LA basin. Yow - and that link doesn't show the blind thrust faults, like Northridge's instigating fault.) But the main San Andreas is his focus, and that's just fine. Volatile? Yes, of course. Of course, he talks about San Francisco. We get to meet the woman shown so often in one of the definitive pictures of the 1906 quake, Alice Eastwood by name (and to read more about her, here's a quick link - Dvorak details her heroic rescue of botanical samples from the fire). He talks about the engineering of the Golden Gate Bridge, and he details some of the actual wrong guesses about the fault. Naturally, he gives a whole chapter to Charles Richter. The last chapter builds on previous information and ties it together best to give the book its title: earthquake storms, where tension releases back and forth along a fault over time in a series of medium-large quakes. He argues that the San Andreas is similar to a nasty fault system in Turkey responsible for many modern earthquakes, and that it's very possible that another series of earthquakes - an earthquake storm - could be coming. Whether you accept Dvorak's ending premise or not, this book is definitely worth the read! Five of five stars.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mike Gowan

    The San Andreas Fault has a probability of <1% of causing a cataclysmic earthquake --magnitude 8.2--in the next 30 years. If something like that happened, it would cause horrifying destruction and affect the lives of millions of people. However, California is an earthquake zone, and the study of the San Andreas Fault has already affected the millions of people who live in California, not only by the effects of the many earthquakes that occur there, but also in how earthquake mitigation has becom The San Andreas Fault has a probability of <1% of causing a cataclysmic earthquake --magnitude 8.2--in the next 30 years. If something like that happened, it would cause horrifying destruction and affect the lives of millions of people. However, California is an earthquake zone, and the study of the San Andreas Fault has already affected the millions of people who live in California, not only by the effects of the many earthquakes that occur there, but also in how earthquake mitigation has become part of the fabric of existence of Californians and other people all over the world. This book tells the story of the geologists who studied the fault, the big earthquakes and the changes in building practices that resulted from the efforts to prevent massive destruction. One story is of Charles Richter, the quirky scientist who developed the method of measuring the magnitude of earthquakes that has become a term used in every day speech, as in "That was off the Richter scale." Richter was once a guest on a radio talk show, and the subject was earthquakes. One caller asked, "Oh, Dr. Richter, I'm so afraid of earthquakes. What should I do?" Richter replied, "Get the hell out of California!" We don't know if she moved. Another personality was Thomas W Dibblee, whose working methods produced great geological maps of much of California. He'd sleep until mid-morning and then get up and walk around for hours, drawing his maps while walking. This sounds like a hard skill to master and naturally arouses the competitive instincts in me. So, I'm going to get my pencils and my paper and go out and map the backyard for a start. I wonder if he would color in his maps while he made them? I suppose I will have to read another book about him in order to figure it out.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Socraticgadfly

    I read most of the last chapter, or maybe next to last, at Smithsonian, or some other online site, so when I saw this at the library, I grabbed it. Dvorak's thesis is that one earthquake can lead to another as a part of a series of "storms" along a major fault over a period of decades. He basis this on analysis of earthquake clustering in Italy, northern Turkey and central China, on three major fault lines where such clusters have happened. From there, he takes a look at the geology and history of I read most of the last chapter, or maybe next to last, at Smithsonian, or some other online site, so when I saw this at the library, I grabbed it. Dvorak's thesis is that one earthquake can lead to another as a part of a series of "storms" along a major fault over a period of decades. He basis this on analysis of earthquake clustering in Italy, northern Turkey and central China, on three major fault lines where such clusters have happened. From there, he takes a look at the geology and history of the San Andreas Fault and wonders if something similar will happen there, and if so, when? Given that the southern sector of the fault is likely overdue for the next "big one," Dvorak's thoughts should not be too comforting to denizens of the Southland. That said, this is still pretty speculative stuff. I think Dvorak could ackowledge that a bit more. A bit more depth in the book in general would have been nice too.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    A quick read, with a surprising amount of human interest, as Dvorak makes real the people who invented seismology, most of whom seem to have done their work in California. I'm not a seismologist, so I can't comment on the accuracy of the book, which lacks references. Some sections seem alarmist, but a major quake in California would be utterly devastating on a scale that would dwarf most other disasters we have experienced in this country. A quick read, with a surprising amount of human interest, as Dvorak makes real the people who invented seismology, most of whom seem to have done their work in California. I'm not a seismologist, so I can't comment on the accuracy of the book, which lacks references. Some sections seem alarmist, but a major quake in California would be utterly devastating on a scale that would dwarf most other disasters we have experienced in this country.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}

    Disclaimer: This ARC was given to me for free in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley. This book was really informative. I live near the fault, but not that close. (I live about an hour drive from it.) This book does have a lot of information, but it's made for the common person, not academic, so it's easy reading. Disclaimer: This ARC was given to me for free in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley. This book was really informative. I live near the fault, but not that close. (I live about an hour drive from it.) This book does have a lot of information, but it's made for the common person, not academic, so it's easy reading.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mike & Lindsey Willis

    Awesomely terrifying This book should be a must read for all Californians. It details the rough geological history of our State, as well as the forces seeking to physically tear it apart.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Per Sjofors

    Interesting and informative book. It is really about how scientists developed the understanding of how earthquakes occurs and the history of how earthquakes now are measured.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Earthquake Storms: The Fascinating History and Volatile Future of the San Andreas Fault covers the known history of the San Andreas fault and, perhaps to a lesser extent, of California earthquakes write large. John Dvorak also analyzes the evolution of earthquake science, from plate tectonics to the Richter scale. This part of the book is interesting, but not as strong as the historical background, which is well-constructed and, if not quite riveting, highly readable. Other than the chapter on Ri Earthquake Storms: The Fascinating History and Volatile Future of the San Andreas Fault covers the known history of the San Andreas fault and, perhaps to a lesser extent, of California earthquakes write large. John Dvorak also analyzes the evolution of earthquake science, from plate tectonics to the Richter scale. This part of the book is interesting, but not as strong as the historical background, which is well-constructed and, if not quite riveting, highly readable. Other than the chapter on Richter and the eponymously-named scale, the theoretical and scientific aspects of the book suffer from being a bit too technical and devoid of color. The result is that I often felt I was on the literary equivalent of a see saw, alternating between the highs of historical quakes and scientists and the lows of overly-cumbersome scientific writing. And I like science! It's just that, as occurs too frequently in scientific writing that purports to be popular press (see Paper: Paging Through History, for example), Dvorak's knowledge, interest, and related vocabulary is broader than that of most readers. Additionally, and perhaps unfairly, I was hoping Earthquake Storms, which does touch on earthquakes in China, Turkey, Italy, and points near and far between, would be part-science, part-travelogue, in the style of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind or Spillover. Ultimately, I did enjoy Earthquake Storms for the portrayal of San Francisco's 1906 quake, and for deepening my knowledge concerning the challenges around earthquake forecasting. Final verdict: On the dry side, but informative. Science-minded readers will likely enjoy it, but the casual reader will likely find it a bit too deep in the weeds.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    I loved Dvorak’s later book on volcanoes, and this was equally interesting in many ways. He has a good way of bringing to life the scientists and others who contributed historically to the advancement of our understanding of earthquakes. He does a good job of creating unique and clear metaphors to help convey complicated subjects — for example, the image of paleoseismology as someone studying a layer cake that was baked and assembled one layer at a time, one per hour, with a split in some layers I loved Dvorak’s later book on volcanoes, and this was equally interesting in many ways. He has a good way of bringing to life the scientists and others who contributed historically to the advancement of our understanding of earthquakes. He does a good job of creating unique and clear metaphors to help convey complicated subjects — for example, the image of paleoseismology as someone studying a layer cake that was baked and assembled one layer at a time, one per hour, with a split in some layers from the cake being dropped at a specific point in time. I came away from this book wanting to visit California and see many of the landmarks he described. My one complaint — which is unfortunately significant enough to prevent this from being 5 stars — is that this book desperately needed a few maps and diagrams. There were a couple of chapters where I could not get through a single paragraph without needing to look for a fairly obscure location on a map of California on my phone, and some of the detailed descriptions of plate movements were very difficult to slog through without a simple sketch of the plates and some arrows. I’m very surprised that the editor/publisher didn’t push to include maps, even if the author didn’t think of it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Adam Orford

    A mix of historical storytelling and geology, the book provides a semi-structured guided tour of the San Andreas fault. A description of some physical oddity may form the jumping off point into a chapter about early 20th century scientific debates, or the description of a historic earthquake in California will lead to a discussion of plate tectonics. By the end you’ll feel like you’ve been told a lot of very interesting things about the fault, even if you will struggle to remember how they all f A mix of historical storytelling and geology, the book provides a semi-structured guided tour of the San Andreas fault. A description of some physical oddity may form the jumping off point into a chapter about early 20th century scientific debates, or the description of a historic earthquake in California will lead to a discussion of plate tectonics. By the end you’ll feel like you’ve been told a lot of very interesting things about the fault, even if you will struggle to remember how they all fit together. I especially enjoyed the description of the UC Berkeley professors responding to the 1906 SF quake, and the description (well hidden) of exactly how the fault formed.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sonya

    I read the Nook version of this, so maybe the paper copies include this, but my biggest regret reading this is that I did not have a detailed Map of the areas the author was focusing on, or a map of the various faults in California (or China and Turkey). That said, this was an extremely interesting read and I have to admit I learned a lot about the how the science evolved through the decades. All in all this would probably be a good read for people a little more familiar with California and its I read the Nook version of this, so maybe the paper copies include this, but my biggest regret reading this is that I did not have a detailed Map of the areas the author was focusing on, or a map of the various faults in California (or China and Turkey). That said, this was an extremely interesting read and I have to admit I learned a lot about the how the science evolved through the decades. All in all this would probably be a good read for people a little more familiar with California and its geography/history, and certainly those who find the science of earthquakes fascinating.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Konet

    It was nice to read a history of the San Andreas fault and where it actually lies. Obviously it is most well known in Los Angeles county/surrounding towns. Glad it had some actual science about plate tectonics and how this fault was created. I am glad this book did not sensationalize earthquakes, but it definitely has me worried if I will experience a big earthquake while living in SoCal. Aside from my irrational/rational fears, this book was well written and documented the history of major earth It was nice to read a history of the San Andreas fault and where it actually lies. Obviously it is most well known in Los Angeles county/surrounding towns. Glad it had some actual science about plate tectonics and how this fault was created. I am glad this book did not sensationalize earthquakes, but it definitely has me worried if I will experience a big earthquake while living in SoCal. Aside from my irrational/rational fears, this book was well written and documented the history of major earthquakes in California. Makes me interested to see what else this author has written.

  21. 4 out of 5

    A

    Anyone who lives in California is familiar with earthquakes, and probably has experienced one. This book tells the story of earthquakes, the science of them, particularly the San Andreas Fault. It is a fascinating history, and many questions are still unanswered. It is still not possible to predict and earthquake, although we know that they should be expected. With all the recent hurricanes, floods, and wildfires, there are plenty of catastrophes that can affect all of us.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Wow, this man sure knows what he is writing about! To a layperson, he describes the fascinating history of understanding what really has happened to the earth's geology. I'm not a geologist, but it is an illumination to realize how the present moment is simply a snapshot of what has been going on over millenia, and will keep progressing, regardless of human understanding or not! Great appreciation for this glimpse! Wow, this man sure knows what he is writing about! To a layperson, he describes the fascinating history of understanding what really has happened to the earth's geology. I'm not a geologist, but it is an illumination to realize how the present moment is simply a snapshot of what has been going on over millenia, and will keep progressing, regardless of human understanding or not! Great appreciation for this glimpse!

  23. 5 out of 5

    giorgio

    Well, if you have an interest in Earthquakes, with primary focus on California, and the people that study them in particular, this one is for you. I took a chance on it and was very pleased. It has the right amount of technical detail, and people trivia as well, to keep it interesting. It works best for people like me that spent a lot of their time exploring CA, since the landmarks are quite recognizable through the storytelling.

  24. 4 out of 5

    vaughn

    Very interesting history of the development of tectonic and earthquake science. There were particularly well described biographies of the scientists and their discoveries. Specifically California and its many fault lines but discussion of other major fault lines around the globe. I guess it should be 4 stars.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stephan Riediker

    Another very interesting book which elucidates the challenge of understanding the complexity of the lithosphere. However, from the perspective of someone who doesn't live in or in the surrounding area of Los Angeles, I found the description of some geographical places too detailed, thus the book contains a lot of insignificant information and the density of relevant information might decrease. Another very interesting book which elucidates the challenge of understanding the complexity of the lithosphere. However, from the perspective of someone who doesn't live in or in the surrounding area of Los Angeles, I found the description of some geographical places too detailed, thus the book contains a lot of insignificant information and the density of relevant information might decrease.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dan Seitz

    An interesting albeit somewhat dry history of probably the nost famous fault in the world. Dvorak has an entertaining tendency for perversely amusing or tragic asides (poor Gilbert and Eastwood!) and offers a LOT of detail on the fault's history and potential future. Probably most interesting for geologists, but definitely of value to curious readers. An interesting albeit somewhat dry history of probably the nost famous fault in the world. Dvorak has an entertaining tendency for perversely amusing or tragic asides (poor Gilbert and Eastwood!) and offers a LOT of detail on the fault's history and potential future. Probably most interesting for geologists, but definitely of value to curious readers.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ross Vincent

    In honor of National Richter Scale Day, I finished this book. It was actually very educational - discussed the issues California has had over the centuries with Earthquakes, many of them due to slippage along the San Andreas Fault Line.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Peter Pearlman

    Keeps you interested It is a well written book. Did a nice job of covering the historical aspects of not only the fault itself but the growth of the science. Lastly got the book while visiting my son in LA on the day of the latest large quake on the fault.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Linda Gaines

    I would have given this book five stars if it had included maps. It is a really good book, but it is very difficult to understand what the author is saying with regards to fault intersections and locations where things are without maps.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Great balance between scientific and novelized narration. It also gives good tips if you're thinking on visiting the fault. Great balance between scientific and novelized narration. It also gives good tips if you're thinking on visiting the fault.

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