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Andrew Alden

San Francisco Earthquake Day

By April 18, 2013

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The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 began right offshore at 5:13 a.m. on this date and swiftly radiated to the north and south along the San Andreas fault, causing ground ruptures from Shelter Cove to San Juan Bautista. Many cities, not just San Francisco, suffered severe damage from shaking and fire, but Frisco was the largest city on the west coast and naturally grabbed all the headlines. Thousands of people died, and well-constructed buildings that withstood the earthquake succumbed to the ensuing fires. To this day, city officials and citizens gather at 5:13 a.m. in solemn commemoration. A few people who were infants at the time are still alive.

I'm from the Bay Area, and "the Big One" is in my cultural DNA. But only recently did I realize that in 1906, the hour of 5:13 was not during the black of night—that's when it is today, with Daylight Saving time. It was shortly before dawn. Everyone should get up an hour later.

The great quake of 1906
The San Andreas fault system
What are earthquakes?
USGS page on the 1906 quake


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