The Million Death Quake : The Science of Predicting Earth's Deadliest Natural Disaster
For centuries, Californians and the Japanese have known that they were at risk of catastrophic earthquakes, and prepared accordingly. But when a violent 7.0 earthquake rocked Haiti in 2010, hardly anyone knew the island nation was even at risk for disaster, and, tragically, no one was prepared. Over 300,000 people died as buildings that had never been designed to withstand such intense shaking toppled over and crushed their inhabitants. Now, scientists warn that it wont be long before a single, catastrophic quake kills one million peopleand that it is going to strike right where we least expect it. In this groundbreaking book, renowned seismologist with the British Geological Survey Roger Musson takes us on an exhilarating journey to explore what scientists and engineers are doing to prepare us for the worst. With riveting tales of the scientists who first cracked the mystery of what causes the ground to violently shake, Musson makes plain the powerful geological forces driving earthquakes and tsunamis, and shows how amazing feats of engineering are making our cities earthquake-proof. Highlighting hotspots around the world from Mexico City to New York this is a compelling scientific adventure into nature at its fiercest.
Could the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 have been predicted and 300,000 deaths prevented? Answering this pressing question with an informative but lackluster study, seismologist and geologist Musson says that prediction is still a challenge, but preventing deaths is within our reach. "Earthquakes don't kill people, buildings do" is one chapter title. As cities grow into megacities with cheaply constructed buildings, the odds of a million-death earthquake increase. Musson explains the geological forces that cause earthquakes and the three criteria for measuring the risk of damage: hazard, the chance that shaking will occur in a given place; exposure, how much can be damaged from an earthquake; and vulnerability, a measure of how strong or weak buildings are in the stricken area. As cities continue to grow, planners must consider how buildings are constructed. Musson offers suggestions on how a building's shape (irregular rather than square), materials (lighter rather than heavier), and engineering (testing design ideas with "artificial" earthquakes) can make it less likely to cause deaths. Musson counsels that it is everyone's responsibility to prepare to respond by, for instance, knowing to turn gas off and remain outdoors and away from buildings after an earthquake. Illus. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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October 16, 2012
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