Earthquakes - THE THIRD PLANET EARTHQUAKES What Happens...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
THE THIRD PLANET E. R. Swanson – spring 2009 EARTHQUAKES What Happens When the Earth Moves? An earthquake is a violent vibration of the earth produced by a rapid release of energy from a volcanic eruption, magma movement, perhaps due to a nuclear explosion, but mostly commonly resulting from rock movement along a fault . What is it like to be in an earthquake? The sensation ranges from a slight shaking of the ground to conditions that include fairly large waves rolling across the ground that make walking impossible. People may even become disoriented and nauseated as if they were seasick. To illustrate further, we can call upon the “novel” talents of Mark Twain, Jack London and others. Mark Twain (1835–1910) briefly (very briefly) served in the Confederate army during the Civil War, a war that pitted brother against brother, and then headed west with his Unionist brother to experience the rapidly fading Wild West. He visited the Comstock Lode in Nevada, and he wrote briefly for the local paper. He continued west over the Sierra Nevada and down through the California gold fields were he saw a jumping frog contest in Calaveras Country and wrote about that. In the fall of 1865, Twain found himself in San Francisco just in time to experience his first earthquake. The excerpts below are from Roughing It , a book Twain penned about his Western experiences that includes a pretty good description of what happens during a large quake. As I turned the corner, around a frame house, there was a great rattle and jar, and it occurred to me that here was an item!--no doubt a fight in that house. Before I could turn and seek the door, there came a terrific shock; the ground seemed to roll under me in waves, interrupted by a violent joggling up and down, and there was a heavy grinding noise as of brick houses rubbing together. I fell up against the frame house and hurt my elbow. I knew what it was now. .. a third and still severer shock came, and as I reeled about on the pavement trying to keep my footing, I saw a sight! The entire front of a tall four-story brick building on Third Street sprung outward like a door and fell sprawling across the street, raising a great dust-like volume of smoke! Every door, of every house, as far as the eye could reach, was vomiting a stream of human beings; and almost before one could execute a wink and begin another, there was a massed multitude of people stretching in endless procession down every street my position commanded. Never was a solemn solitude turned into teeming life quicker. The plastering that fell from ceilings in San Francisco that day would have covered several acres of ground. For some days afterward, groups of eyeing and pointing men stood about many a building, looking at long zig-zag cracks that extended from the eaves to the ground. Four feet of the tops of three chimneys on one house were broken square off and turned around in such a way as to completely stop the draft. A crack a hundred feet long gaped open six inches wide in the middle of one
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 09/09/2009 for the course GEO 301 taught by Professor Long during the Spring '07 term at University of Texas at Austin.

Page1 / 12

Earthquakes - THE THIRD PLANET EARTHQUAKES What Happens...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online