Monday, July 25, 2011

Loma Prieta

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The third game of the world series on October 17, 18 to see the giants try to bounce back against Oakland at Candlestick Park wasn’t the only match to be done that evening. Eighteen kilometers beneath the ground another contest was also beginning in an arena known as the San Andreas Fault. Here two enormous plates of the earth’s crust had been locked in a planetary pushing match since the great San Francisco earthquake of 106. These players were tiring, reaching the breaking point. Their game was in its last inning.

As the fans finally found there seats at Candlestick Park. Expectantly they watched the teams warm up. The clocks had reached 504. And deep beneath the ground a section of weak rock had snapped. The two sides of the San Andreas shot past each other. Simultaneously the West Side of the fault rose, and it had seemed to be lifting the mountains themselves.

The ripping of the faults was dangerously unstoppable. And for about eight seconds the earth’s crust unzipped at more than two kilometers per second, twenty kilometers to the north and south. The bucking Santa Cruz Mountains flicked houses off their foundations like eggshells.

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The faulting released a frenzy of seismic waves. Setting seismometer needles scribbling around the world, and carrying a lethal message to Californians.

Waves rolling to the south bludgeoned the city of Santa Cruz, which was only 16 kilometers from the epicenter. They took out its commercial heart and had swiped four lives.

The waves smashed into Watsonville, damaging and destroying most homes and turning Main St. into a ghost town. They mutilated Hollister and destroyed the rich settlements of the Salinas Valley.

Waves rolling north rumbled the ground beneath beautiful Los Gatos, shattering Victorian houses and half the business district. They also shook San Jose but most buildings held.

The waves swept up the peninsula, rattling securely planted cities such as Palo Alto and Menlo Park. At Stanford University they found old, brittle structures and twisted and cracked them.

Ahead laid Candlestick Park, packed with 6,000 fans ripened for disaster. The waves shook fans and bewildered spectators. But Candlestick sits on bedrock and defeated most waves.

Now that the waves were weakening with little affect they jiggled San Francisco and towns across the Bay.

An attiring vanguard of waves reached San Francisco’s old Market St. area and Marina District and Oakland’s busy waterfront. These areas sit on man made fill. Here the waves found soil in tune with there own vibrations and strummed it like a guitar string.

Marina Buildings buckled, many fell. Column joints supporting Oakland’s Interstate 880 failed, and 44 slabs of concrete deck each weighing 600 tons collapsed on cars below. The waves pushed the Oakland end of the Bay Bridge 18 centimeters to the east, and a fifteen-meter section also crashed onto the level beneath.

The magnitude of the earthquake was 7.1

68 people died, and ,757 people were injured. A total of ,408 homes were damaged. And 1,018 homes were destroyed. ,50 businesses were damaged, and 66 businesses were destroyed. The estimated dollar loss of the quake was $7 billion dollars. And more than 7,000 aftershocks between the magnitudes of 1.0 and 5.4 were recorded by October 1, 10.

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