Major cities and hundreds of millions of people will be taken by surprise. But you can be prepared!
EARTH scientists, armed with more accurate seismic tools, are discovering startling new facts. They warn of the potential for earthquakes in surprising places. Millions, they say, are certain to be caught off guard. Here is what worries earth scientists. People have lulled themselves into complacency with the false idea that earthquakes are a matter to be concerned about only in certain notorious earthquake zones. The truth is, damaging earthquakes can occur anywhere. Many individuals within the past year, in scattered areas of the United States and other nations, have had to be jolted the hard way to learn this geologic fact of life.
About one year ago, a powerful earthquake devastated the business section of Coalinga, an oil and farming town in California. The community was resting on a fault that no one knew existed. Last October, residents of the state of Idaho were rudely reminded of their earthquake risk when a powerful jolt, registering 6.9 on the Richter scale, tore through a mountain area leaving a 10-mile-long gash. Two hundred aftershocks occurred. Two children were killed. Several nearby states and parts of Canada were shaken by this quake. Another surprising quake killed hundreds in Guinea in West Africa, a zone of the earth where earthquakes are rare. And last November Belgium suffered its worst earthquake in more than a century. Two persons died as a consequence. The surprise quake centered on the city of Liege and registered 5 on the Richter scale. British engineers warned that southeast England could be hit by similar or larger quakes. In recent months, other large earthquakes in Turkey, Japan and the Philippines have killed hundreds. A large earthquake shook Hawaii Island that could have caused severe damage had it struck a heavily populated area. Earthquakes and tremors continue to jolt wide areas of the earth. Millions are being reminded that earthquakes and geologic disasters don't always happen "somewhere else." In past centuries large earthquakes could strike areas of the earth and have little effect outside the stricken zone. Many of these earthquake — struck areas were then sparsely inhabited. And communications and commerce were such that much of the world might not even be aware a disastrous quake had occurred. No more. During recent decades the world's population has exploded. Complex and highly technological civilization have been built right over areas of former earthquake activity. Certain large cities of the developed world and numerous cities in the developing world have been built right on the ruins of earthquake — ravaged rubble. At the time of writing this article, no truly modern industrialized metropolitan city has been struck by a great earthquake. But earthquake experts warn it is only a matter of time before one certainly will be struck. And when one is, it will not only cause great loss of life and property, but it could alter the nation's political and economic affairs. One major area of concern among seismologists involves the stresses developing in the North American continent.
"New" Earthquake Country
Many citizens across the United States and Canada are unaware of the earthquake stresses brewing under their feet. While earthquake activity is most common near the Pacific and continental plate edges in the Far West and in western Canada, there are also powerful midcontinent (midplate) stresses building up. Major population centers in the East and parts of the Midwest are vulnerable. U.S. government scientists estimate that 70 million of the nation's citizens live in areas of moderate to major earthquake risk. At least 39 states have suffered some earthquake damage in this century.
Midwest Time Bombs
How many are aware that the most powerful series of earthquakes since the founding of the United States did not occur in Western states? The series occurred in the Midwest in the years 1811-12. Three great quakes (estimated to be 8.6, 8.4, 8.7 on the Richter scale) focused around the New Madrid, Missouri, area. So powerful were these quakes that they destroyed great forests, upheaved and tore apart major land areas and changed the course of the mighty Mississippi river. "The whole land was moved and waved like waves of the sea," wrote one eyewitness. Few lives were lost in these quakes because only a few thousand then populated the area. But what was wilderness in 181 I has become the populous industrial heartland of America. Twenty million persons now live in the area of greatest danger, and a great concentration of business and commerce flows through this region. St. Louis University seismologist Otto Nuttli warns there again is a haunting geologic jack-in-the-box coiled deep in the midriff of America, waiting to pop. He warns it may not pop for more than 100 years or it could go off tomorrow. No one knows for sure because not enough is known about the geologic structure and fault history of the area. The New Madrid Fault Zone runs through southern Illinois, southeast Missouri and northeast Arkansas. Some scientists believe southwest Kentucky, western Tennessee and northern Mississippi may be involved. Earthquake stress energy has been building up for more than 170 years like a wound — up stressed spring. A repetition now of a great earthquake, Mr. Nuttli says, "would cause a disaster whose magnitude would only be eclipsed by an all-out nuclear war." "In the Middle West," says Mr. Nuttli, "you see your relatives move to California and you say, 'Watch out for the earthquake.' Midwesterners don't realize they're standing on one." The basement rocks under the state of Ohio lie between two major rift zones. "The only people that really know about the pending danger are the scientists," said author Ron Redfern in an interview. Mr. Redfern's graphically and pictorially illustrated book The Making of a Continent outlines the geologic features of each section of the North American continent and the massive forces that created them over time. What makes a great earthquake in the Midwest so dangerous for American security is that a big quake would almost certainly rupture the major oil and gas pipelines, railroads and highways linking the nation. Many soils in the Midwest earthquake zone are particularly vulnerable to a shaking by a great earthquake. The unconsolidated sediments of the Mississippi valley are very susceptible to earthquake damage — the earth under strong earthquake vibrations will actually liquefy under high water content or high water levels. Despite general knowledge of earthquake danger in this region by officials and citizens, surveys have found little concern for building earthquake — resistant structures. Politically and economically, the earthquake danger is an unpopular subject.
East Coast Quake Zone
In January 1982 many East Coast residents of the United States were surprised when a moderately severe earthquake (5.9 on the Richter scale) struck the New England states. They shouldn't have been. Earthquakes are recorded commonly in the region, but many are not felt by humans. Geologists point out that past incidences of recorded earthquakes prove New York City, Boston, northwestern New York State and eastern Canada must be considered earthquake prone. So, too, Charleston, South Carolina, severely damaged by an earthquake in 1886. The crustal rock properties in the East Coast region are more dangerous than those in the Western states. The Eastern crustal rock transmits seismic energy much more efficiently and widely because the area has far fewer faults to absorb the shock. Earthquakes of similar size would wreak far more damage over a wider area in the East Coast than on the West Coast. Yet for the most part, earthquake awareness on the East Coast is very low and preparedness is almost nonexistent.
Cities Waiting to Die
At both ends of the San Andreas Fault in California, two major metropolitan areas could experience a big quake now. There is a 50-50 chance of a major earthquake somewhere in California, not just on the San Andreas, in the next 10 years, says Bruce Bolt, a seismologist at the University of California at Berkeley. The southern section of the San Andreas Fault running close to the Los Angeles — San Bernardino megalopolis down to the Mexican border is the greatest danger spot for an earthquake of the magnitude that destroyed San Francisco in 1906. "The 1857 and the 1906 earthquakes will be repeated — there's no way around it," comments Jerry Eaton of the U.S. Geological Survey National Center for Earthquake Research. The two sides of the 700-mile-long San Andreas Fault have slipped past each other some 15 feet in 140 years — in the middle of the state. The densely populated San Francisco and Los Angeles sections, however, have not budged. Inevitably, when the stresses become irresistible, the strained rock in these areas will snap. Some have called San Francisco "the city that is waiting to die." What alarms earthquake experts is that officials in various California cities have allowed major industrial and residential concentrations to be built right along many faults. An adviser to the California State Commission on Seismic Safety says: "The way many hospitals and schools were built around here [San Francisco area], you'd think they used the [San Andreas] fault line as a guide." A devastating quake in California's Silicon Valley would set back American leadership in sophisticated electronics for years. Critical water aqueducts cross the San Andreas several times. And a major earthquake would break water and gas lines in thousands of places, knock out half the electrical transmission lines and pumping treatment plants. Landslides would block mountain roads. Alaska faces one of the highest earthquake dangers. It is the most seismically active spot in the North American continent. The Puget Sound area in the state of Washington has a history of damaging earthquakes. Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah will undoubtedly continue to have sporadic earthquakes in the moderate to severe range, earthquake experts warn. Earthquakes are a common earthly occurrence. On the average, every 30 seconds, year in and year out, the earth trembles, rumbles, quivers or shakes somewhere. Seismologists record more than one million earthquakes every year. The vast majority of these quakes are so slight that only delicate measuring instruments can detect them. But of the average million or so earthquakes recorded each year several hundred quakes have the destructive power for slight to considerable damage if they hit areas of human civilization. About 20 earthquakes are strong enough to create serious or extensive damage. About two to four of these earthquakes on a yearly average are devastating or catastrophic in their effects, resulting in death and widespread destruction.
Great Future Quakes
Is it true there is nothing humanity can do to prevent such disasters? The startling answer is, disastrous earthquakes can be prevented! Too many have been looking only to human, scientific understanding of the physical forces involved in natural disasters. They totally fail to see any moral — spiritual aspect to these calamities. Why haven't we thought through the fact that the Creator has the power to control the forces in the universe? God has the power to intervene in the forces of the earth for human benefit or for chastisement according to how nations live. God has chosen to allow this world's civilizations to have 6,000 years to experiment with their own humanly devised ways of living contrary to God's laws if that is what they want to do. Mankind long ago chose to follow ways that seem right in human eyes. Civilization after civilization has worshiped false gods. They have lived the way of self-centeredness, greed, strife, violence and warfare. Sometimes nations or large segments of a nation totally give themselves over to grossly lewd, violent or corrupt life-styles. God sees. Great cities, city — states and even empires in past history have been weakened or destroyed by great earthquakes. Many don't want to see these as God's judgments on sinning peoples. But the Creator also intervenes to forestall the natural consequences of physical forces building up within the earth. Why? In order to accomplish his purposes among nations. Our world is rushing toward a grand climax. Mankind's day under the sway of Satan is almost over. God is now using this magazine, and verbally the World Tomorrow telecast and broadcast, to warn mankind that God is soon going to usher in a new civilization based on his immutable spiritual laws — the way of love toward God and love for fellow human beings. But the time is fast approaching when God will do more than speak through human beings. He is about. to intervene powerfully in world affairs to stop our world's spiraling crime, corruption, pollution and warfare. He will punish and remove today's civilizations and set up a new civilization. Great earthshaking events are prophesied to humble a haughty and rebellious human race in the closing days of man's civilization before the return of Jesus Christ to reestablish the government of God over the earth. This period of time is called the day of the Lord in Bible prophecy. "O God... You have been displeased .... You have made the earth tremble; You have broken it; heal its breaches, for it is shaking" (Ps. 60:1-2, Revised Authorized Version). Isaiah, chapter 24, reveals why God will first shake the foundations of the earth: because "the earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. ... The earth is utterly broken down... the earth is moved exceedingly" (verses 5, 19, Authorized Version). "Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger" (Isa. 13:13). "And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord. and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to SHAKE TERRIBLY THE EARTH. "In that day a. man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for the fear of the Lord. and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to SHAKE TERRIBLY THE EARTH" (Isa. 2:17-21, emphasis ours throughout). The book of Revelation reveals the climax of these earthshaking events. "I looked when He [Jesus Christ] opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake ... and every mountain and island was moved out of its place" (Rev. 6:12, 14, RAV). Again Revelation, chapter 16, prophesies the earth's final great earthquake to end today's civilizations, one that will alter the geography — of the whole globe; "such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth.... Then every island fled away. and the mountains were not found" (verses 18, 20, RAV). During this great earthquake, every civilization of man will be shaken to the ground. Some will be totally destroyed. This is what the Creator thinks of the evils of the civilizations man has built! God will start anew! That's why the world tomorrow is called in Scripture "the times of restitution of all things" (Acts 3:21). Earth scientists are worried about the unpreparedness of so many to cope with damaging earthquakes. They say earthquakes are certain to occur in many areas of the earth. The Scriptures concur with this assessment — and explain why! Don't be caught totally unprepared. The Bible tells you how you, now, can have special divine help and protection if you will change your ways and begin to do what God says is right — not what you think is right in your own eyes.
SAFETY AND SURVIVAL IN AN EARTHQUAKE
The Plain Truth provides the following basic earthquake safety rules as a public service. You may wish to post or keep them for future reference. Few casualties come from the actual ground movement of an earthquake. Most result from falling objects and debris, fires and uncontrolled panic. No rules can eliminate all earthquake dangers, but the following rules can greatly reduce injuries and damage.
Before an Earthquake
1. Support local safe building codes with enforcement for schools, offices, homes, 2. Support and encourage earthquake drills and training for schools, work areas and homes, 3. As a homeowner or tenant: Fasten shelves to walls, Remove heavy objects from upper shelves unless they are restrained, Place breakable or valuable items in a safe place, Remove or securely fasten high, loose objects, as well as heavy objects above beds, If you have defective wiring or leaky gas connections, replace them, You could thereby save your home, Bolt down water heaters and other gas appliances, 4. Teach members of your family how to turn off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves, 5. Maintain at least three days supply of storable food and bottled water, Maintain an up-to-date medical kit. Provide responsible family members with basic first-aid instruction because medical facilities could be overwhelmed immediately after a severe quake, Keep at hand a flashlight and a battery-powered radio in the house, 6. Conduct calm family discussions about earthquakes and related problems, Do not tell frightening stories about disasters, 7. Think about what you would do if an earthquake struck when you were at home, in a car, at work, in a store, in a public hall or outside, Your prior planning will help you to act calmly, safely and constructively in an emergency and enable you to help others.
During an Earthquake
1. Remain as calm as possible, Think through the consequences of any action, Calm and reassure others, 2. If indoors, watch for falling plaster, bricks, light fixtures and other objects, Stay away from windows, mirrors, chimneys and outer walls, If in danger, get under a table, desk, bed or a strong doorway, School children should be taught to get under desks, Usually it is not best to run outside, The one exception may be if you are in a heavy, poorly constructed old building, 3. In a high-rise office building, get under a desk, Do not dash for exits; stairwells may be jammed with people or broken, Power for elevators may fail. 4. If outside, avoid high buildings, walls, power poles and objects that could fall. Do not run through the streets, If possible, move away from all hazards, If you're in an automobile, stop in the safest place and stay in your automobile (because you are encased in steel), 5. Never be stampeded into leaving an upright building merely because it groans horribly or cracks appear and plaster falls, If collapse is obviously imminent, you may need to vacate the building, (Collapse of a building is generally indicated by walls falling as a unit.)
After an Earthquake
1. Check for injuries, Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they're in immediate danger of further injury, Wear shoes to avoid foot injuries from debris and glass, 2. Shut off all damaged electrical and gas lines, Do not operate light switches, use either matches or open flame appliances until you check for and rule out gas leaks, Do not touch downed power lines, 3. If water is off, emergency water may be obtained from water heaters, toilet tanks, ice cubes, canned vegetables and even radiators of cars, (Water from radiators should not be used for drinking as it may contain antifreeze,) Check to see if sewage lines are intact before permitting the flushing of toilets, 4. Do not use your telephone except for genuine emergency calls, Turn on radio for information, 5. Do not spread rumors or be quick to believe them, Rumors can cause great harm and panic following disasters, 6. Do not immediately go sight-seeing, Keep streets clear for emergency vehicles, 7. Be prepared for additional aftershocks, Although usually smaller, they may be large enough to cause further damage to weakened structures, especially masonry structures, 8. Watch out for and stay clear of areas of potential tidal waves or landslides, 9. Help police, fire fighters, civil defense or relief units only if requested to do so, Otherwise stay out of damaged areas, 10. Make thorough check of your home for cracks or leaks in chimneys, utility connections or other weakened parts of the home that could cause future fires, asphyxiation or further damage.