The Earthquake Museum Bookstore
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Earthquake BooksEarthquakes by Bruce Bolt
This is a good introductory text on plate tectonics and the processes behind quakes. Bolt also investigates related items, such as volcanos, tsunami and continental drift. He explains the different kinds of faults and how that affects the kinds of quakes that are produced. He also explains the implications of all this for engineering and prediction. This book is well illustrated with plates and diagrams that work with the text to make things clear.
At Risk: Earthquakes & Tsunamis on the West Coast by Clague, Yorath, Franklin and Turner
This 2006 book starts with an overview of earthquakes aimed at the lay reader. Thier main interest is the Northwest Pacific Coast, ranging from British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. As Canadians, they discuss impacts on British Columbia in more detail than books published on the other side of the border, which tend to forget that the geological processes affecting the Northwest do not stop at the border.
The main action in this part of the world is the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which stretches from Northern California into Southern British Columbia. Along this zone, the remnants of the Juan de Fuca Plate are disappearing under the North American Plate. This process is capable of producing the largest earthquakes on earth. The 3 largest quakes on record, The 1960 Chilean Quake, The 2004 Sumatra earthquake, and the 1964 Anchorage Quake were all produced in subduction zones similar to the Cascadian Zone. The last big one here was in 1700 and this book discusses when the next one may occur, and the type of damage that it would cause. Other types of earthquakes in the area, such as the 2001 Nisqually quake are also discussed.
Just because this book focuses on the Pacific Northwest, don't ignore it just because you live elsewhere. It is full of good information about earthquakes throughout the world, with many examples from all over. A particularly useful section analyses the types of damage and the factors that will cause different damage in different areas or in different kinds of buildings.
Living with Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest by Robert Yeats
This book focuses on the causes and probable effects of earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest. It is designed as a text for Professor Yeats' college class and can get fairly technical. It covers just about everything you would want to know about earthquakes in this area, from the science to insurance and how you can prepare.
The Pacific Northwest has not suffered many large earthquakes since the American settlement began 150 years ago. However, there is evidence of very large quakes occuring every few hundred years, caused by the subduction of the Juan de Fuca plate under the North American Plate. This is the same process that produced the massive Good Friday Anchorage quake of 1964. This book sounds the alarm, with one section discussing whether to expect one Magnitude 9 quake or a series of Magnitude 8 up and down the coast.
Professor Yeats also discusses shallower crustal quakes in the eastern
part of Washington and Oregon. The cover demonstrates his contention that
the Northwest is due for some major quakes with a picture of damage from a
recent quake in Klamath Falls, Oregon. There are detailed descriptions of
this and other Northwest quakes, including a magnitude 7 in Seattle, along
with a good helping of scientific explanations of earthquakes.
Agents of Chaos : Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Other Natural Disasters by Stephen L. Harris
A nicely presented discussion of the causes, effects and likely places of future occurences of these events. Includes a bibliography. For the general reader.
Denial of Disaster: The Untold Story and Photographs of the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire by Gladys Hansen
Gladys Hansen has spent years working in the archives of the San Francisco library to uncover the whole story of what happened in San Francisco's 1906 Earthquake. She has collected eye witness accounts and official records that show many more casualties than had previously been reported. This book has beautiful photographs of the earthquake and fire as well as a detailed study of the quake and likelihood of a similar one today.
Striking photos document the quake damage, fire fighting and people affected
by the disaster. This was the biggest earthquake to hit an American city.
First we see tilted houses and buckled streets from the quake itself. The
fire that followed actually caused more damage as it raged out of control.
Since the quake had broken many water mains firefighters had little to work
with. They had to dynamite houses to create a firebreak. Thousands of people
lost their homes and had to camp out in Golden Gate Park and temporary housing.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. These pictures convey in a
way mere words cannot the enormity of this disaster.
Selected Resources on Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics from the US Geological Survey
This is a good list of books, maps, charts, and software about the geological processes that contribute to earthquakes.
Geology Books by John McPheeAnnals of the Former World by John McPhee
Composed of the four books by McPhee listed below along with a new essay, Crossing the Craton. This work is an entertaining introduction to the theory of plate tectonics and the forces that created the North American continent we know today. John McPhee is without a doubt the most entertaining non-fiction writer I know. He approaches any subject with enthusiasim and dedication to detail. He allows the experts to talk about their work and about themselves. When he discusses geology he gets the science right and introduces us to the scientists to boot. We not only learn the subject but find out why geologists love what they do.
This series concentrates on a line following Interstate 80 across the country. Along the way, we stop to look at roadcuts and landscape while we listen to McPhee's geologist buddies explain it all to us. It turns out that when the highway builders cut into the hillsides they give us a glimpse of what lies underground and that in turn can tell us fascinating stories of how the landscape was built long ago.
Of course, with John McPhee leading the way, we are just as liable to take a detour to Hawaii or the South China Sea if it will help him explain a point. His goal is not much short of the entire history of the earth as a planet. He will do anything to keep non-technical readers interested, including diversions into the family histories of his geologist informants.
I have loved reading anything John McPhee has written for years. It
was reading these books that really sparked my interest in geology and the
forces that cause earthquakes.
Basin and Range by John McPhee
While Basin and Range starts in the East, its main focus is the great
basin between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada. Here, parallel ranges of
mountains with basins between represent an area where the earth's crust is
being stretched. In the course of explaining this we are treated to an explanation
of the major processes of geology, not least of which is plate tectonics.
We also get a glimpse of the way scientists gathered evidence and came to
accept plate tectonics as a true explanation of the way things came to be.
McPhee continues his study of North America with a grand overview of
the Appalaichan Mountains and the processes that created them. His discussion
of the pros and cons of plate tectonics as an explanation for the world as
we know it gives us some insight into how scientists evaluate a new theory
to see if it makes better sense of the world than the old way of looking at
By now, McPhee has made his way out to Wyoming to see how the Rocky Mountains were formed. He starts the book with excerts from the journal written by a woman in 1905, who turns out to be the mother of McPhee's geologist informant. The book jumps back and forth between the present the past and the geologic past in which 10 million years ago counts as recent.
This is the story of mountains rising, eroding and rising again. Seas
come and go. Huge basins between the mountains fill up until the mountains
themselves are completely covered. Rivers run on the new ground level above
the mountaintops. The whole surface of the land is pushed upwards and worn
away. Old mountains are uncovered once again and the rivers cut canyons right
through the ancient ranges. Reading this is like seeing millions of years
on fast forward rushing before your eyes.
This geological history of California explains how different Terrains
have crashed into Western America to become California. McPhee starts at
the spot where the San Andreas fault goes into the ocean near San Francisco
and goes on to talk about the origin of the Sierra Nevada and how they came
to have veins of gold, among other things. California is an amalgamation
of bits and pieces of land that have attached themselves to the west coast
of the continent. We find that plate tectonics is more complicated than just
a few plates jostling eachother. Island Arcs travel halfway around the world,
one after the other, to crash into America and become part of California.
Looking at the Eastern Pacific today, we see similar processes operating as
the Phillipines, Japan and Korea are in various stages of adding themselves
Children's BooksEarthquake by Christopher Lampton
A graphic presentation of the causes and results of earthquakes, including research methods scientists employ as they investigate the origin, nature and control of this force. For Children age 9-12.
Contains 20 simple experiments explaining earthquakes that kids can do
with materials found around the home, plus dozens of additional ideas for
turning the experiments into unique science fair projects. Illustrated
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