Texas Earthquakes

Texas Earthquakes

CLIFF FROHLICH
SCOTT D. DAVIS
Copyright Date: 2002
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/725508
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    Texas Earthquakes
    Book Description:

    When nature goes haywire in Texas, it isn'tusuallyan earthshaking event. Though droughts, floods, tornadoes, and hail all keep Texans talking about the unpredictable weather, when it comes to earthquakes, most of us think we're on terra firma in this state. But we're wrong! Nearly every year, earthquakes large enough to be felt by the public occur somewhere in Texas.

    This entertaining, yet authoritative book covers "all you really need to know" about earthquakes in general and in Texas specifically. The authors explain how earthquakes are caused by natural forces or human activities, how they're measured, how they can be predicted, and how citizens and governments should prepare for them. They also thoroughly discuss earthquakes in Texas, looking at the occurrences and assessing the risks region by region and comparing the amount of seismic activity in Texas to other parts of the country and the world. The book concludes with a compendium of over one hundred recorded earthquakes in Texas from 1811 to 2000 that briefly describes the location, timing, and effects of each event.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79646-1
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  6. CHAPTER 1 MEASURING EARTHQUAKES
    (pp. 1-16)

    When we hear that an earthquake has occurred, scientists ask the same basic questions that other people do:

    How bad was it? Were people killed, and was there severe damage?

    How big was it? Did its size alone make it unusual?

    Where was it? Did it affect places where we have friends or where lots of people live? Did it occur in a place where earthquakes occur often or somewhere that earthquakes have not occurred previously?

    To answer questions like ″how bad″ or ″how big,″ it helps to have quantitative measures—numbers that allow us to compare earthquakes in different...

  7. CHAPTER 2 EARTHQUAKES IN TEXAS
    (pp. 17-39)

    When people think of Texas, they seldom think of earthquakes. They think of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, hailstorms, and droughts, but not earthquakes. On 25 October 1989 theLos Angeles Daily Newsran a story about the safest places to live in the United States to avoid natural disasters. While the article did note that disasters could happen anywhere, the writer identified the town of Alpine, Texas, as one of the safest spots in the United States:

    According to seismologists, meteorologists, hurricane specialists and other specialists, a small area of west Texas and southeast New Mexico seems to be the most...

  8. CHAPTER 3 EARTHQUAKES IN THE UNITED STATES
    (pp. 40-51)

    As children, we played with a puzzle of the United States in which each state was a separate puzzle piece. From this, the most memorable fact many of us learned was that Alaska and Texas are the largest states, with Montana and California not too far behind; other states are not even close.

    Coincidentally, three of these states have had a disproportionate share of the nation′s large earthquakes. In the past eighty years Alaska, the largest state, has experienced the largest earthquake of all, the 28 March 1964 Good Friday earthquake, with a magnitude Mwof 9.2. California′s 1906 earthquake,...

  9. CHAPTER 4 EARTHQUAKES IN THE WORLD AND OUT OF THIS WORLD
    (pp. 52-64)

    Recently we were at a party where people were playing Trivial Pursuit and someone drew the question, ″Which country has the most earthquakes?″ To our chagrin we got the answer wrong. We answered ″Vanuatu,″ a South Pacific island nation (called the New Hebrides before 1980) that has experienced no fewer than 75 earthquakes with magnitude of 7 and above in the twentieth century.¹ Unfortunately for us, the game card′s answer was ″Japan.″

    Who was correct, the professional seismologists (us) or the makers of Trivial Pursuit? Like many of life′s interesting questions, the Trivial Pursuit question is not well-posed—-earthquakes are...

  10. CHAPTER 5 CAUSES OF EARTHQUAKES
    (pp. 65-81)

    When one of this book′s authors (Davis) received his Ph.D. in seismology, a fellow student named Guillaume Cambois brought a bottle of champagne to the celebration party. When it came time to open the bottle, he asked, ″Should I open it the French way or the American way?″ Since Guillaume was from France, since we didn′t know what the French way was, and since this wasn′t the first bottle opened at the party, we answered ″the French way.″ Guillaume removed the wire from the cork and asked for a large, heavy kitchen knife. He then turned the bottle on its...

  11. CHAPTER 6 PREDICTING EARTHQUAKES
    (pp. 82-94)

    You don′t think that seismologists can predict earthquakes? Well, we are seismologists, and we ″predict″ that:

    sometime during the twenty-first century California will experience an earthquake with magnitude of 7.0 or greater; and

    sometime during the twenty-first century, California will experience an earthquake with magnitude of 7.0 or greaterthat takes place on a Saturday.

    Most likely, both of these ″predictions″ will come true. Over the past century California has experienced approximately nine earthquakes with magnitude of 7 or greater; we presume there will be similar activity in the century to come. At the rate of nine quakes per century,...

  12. CHAPTER 7 SHOULD I WORRY ABOUT EARTHQUAKES?
    (pp. 95-102)

    We are always saddened when people are hurt or property is damaged by a natural disaster. Some disasters are especially poignant because it is clear that much of the suffering they produced could have been avoided. On beaches along the Texas Gulf Coast we see housing developments that are certain to be destroyed by the next serious hurricane. We have seen pictures of beautiful homes in California built on steep slopes that are likely to fail—homes that will succumb to a landslide triggered by heavy rains or by an earthquake.

    Often the people who live in these homes are...

  13. CHAPTER 8 WHO ARE SEISMOLOGISTS AND WHAT DO THEY REALLY DO?
    (pp. 103-111)

    About ten years ago the Department of Geosciences at a well-respected university in Houston wished to hire a new faculty member, and so the department placed an advertisement in EOS, a newspaper sent to all members of the American Geophysical Union, a professional organization for earth scientists. The ad solicited applications from individuals ″from any subfield of seismology, including . . .″ and listed a half-dozen specializations, such as ″imaging reservoirs,″ ″processing of multifold seismic data,″ ″seismic interpretation,″ and ″controlled source seismology.″ The remarkable thing about this was that the listed subfields did not include earthquake seismology or any subfield...

  14. CHAPTER 9 A NEW COMPENDIUM OF EARTHQUAKE ACTIVITY IN TEXAS
    (pp. 112-256)

    The objective of this chapter is to summarize available knowledge about all historical earthquakes felt by Texas residents. Most of the events here are actual earthquakes that occurred within Texas borders. A few are earthquakes with epicenters outside of Texas, and still others are events reported by the media as earthquakes that in all likelihood were something else, such as sonic booms or thunderstorms. We do not include events such as the 1947 ammonium nitrate explosion in Texas City or the 1992 natural gas explosion in Brenham, which were recorded by seismographs but that to our knowledge were not mistakenly...

  15. References
    (pp. 257-268)
  16. Index
    (pp. 269-275)