At 5:13 on the morning of April 18th, 1906, the city of San Francisco was shaken by a terrible earthquake. A great part of the city was destroyed and a large number of buildings burnt down. The number of people who lost their homes reached as many as 250,000. About 700 people died in the earthquake and the fires.

Another earthquake shook San Francisco on October 17th, 1989. as America's second strongest earthquake and about 100 people were killed. It happened in the evening as people were travelling home. A wide and busy road which was built like a bridge over another road fell onto the below. Many people were killed in their cars, but a few lucky ones were not hurt.

Luckily the 1989 earthquake did not happen in the centre of town but about 55 kilometres away. In one part of the town a great many buildings were destroyed. These buildings were over 60 years old, so they were not strong enough. There were a lot of fires all over the city. The electricity was cut off for several days too.

Why do earthquakes happen? Scientists explain that the outside of the earth is made of a number of different plates. At San Francisco the Pacific plate, which is moving towards the northwest, meets the North American plate. The Pacific plate is moving very slowly – at 5.3 centimeters
(厘米)a year. Sometimes these two plates stop and do not move for years. Then suddenly, they jump and an earthquake is felt. As a result of the movement of these plates, west America, near the sea, has always been a bad place four earthquakes. When the 1906 earthquake happened, the Pacific plate jumped 5-6 meters to the north.

Scientists are afraid that one day an even bigger earthquake will hit the area around San Francisco. They call it "The Big One.  However, people today are still building more houses. The population in and around San Francisco is now ten times larger than it was in 1906. This means that if there is another big earthquake, a great many houses and buildings will be destroyed.


(Senior English for China   Student's Book 1A   Unit 4  Workbook Reading)



Swarm of Quakes


Iran Earthquake


The Big One - 1906


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