Anatolian tectonic plate, north anatolian fault, historical earthquakes Greece, Attica, Earthquakes, Tsunami, , Hurricanes, Volcanic Eruptions and other Natural and Man-Made Hazards and Disasters - by Dr. George Pararas Carayannis

Tsunami, Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Volcanic Eruptions, Climate Change and other Natural and Man-Made Hazards and Disasters - Disaster Archaeology,



(The Next Great California Earthquake)

George Pararas-Carayannis

Excerpts from Introduction to the book

THE BIG ONE - The Next Great California Earthquake -TABLE OF CONTENTS

© 2000 George Pararas-Carayannis Library of Congess ISBN: 0-9709725-0-4 / all rights reserved


SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (Disaster Scenario )

A typical working day is about to begin in the South Central section of California. It is 7:50 on a sunny January morning 200?. Traffic is already building up to its peak on Highway 101. All north-south routes in the area are jammed. Interstates 5 from the San Joaquin Valley and 15 through the Cajon Pass are loaded with commuters. The same is true for the freeways to the urban areas of Ventura, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, and San Bernardino.

Yet, in exactly six minutes, this affluent, sophisticated, and highly populated region will suffer a catastrophic change. It is not the nature of this planet to be still. An endless continuity of change and movement must be sustained. A process that began many decades ago is nearing now its inevitable conclusion. A 250-mile segment of the San Andreas Fault, extending from Parkfield in Central California southward to San Bernardino, has graduallybeen forced into an unstable, strained position, held there by the strength of its rocks. Here, in this zone of weakness, 20 kilometers beneath the surface, this crustal block has reached the critical limit of its strength. The supporting rocks will rupture and the fractured blocks will slip across each other. This adjustment along this boundary of active tectonic plates marks a point in the movement towards a new equilibrium.

The pilot of a helicopter surveying the traffic checks his watch. It is 7:55 a.m. He reports to a local radio station that nothing unusual can be observed, no accidents, no stalled cars. Everything is going smoothly. It looks like a quiet morning. He asks the station to telephone his wife to tell her he'll be back by 10 o'clock to take her and the baby to the pediatrician.

At 7:56 a.m., a slight tremor is felt. Very gently at first. But it grows increasingly strong until the ground shakes violently for 20 to 25 seconds. In that infinitesimally minute fraction of time, the area that has taken years to develop is devastated.

The pilot in the helicopter looks below in distress. He tries to make radio contact again with his base. There is no response. Only silence. For miles around, wherever he looks, there is a horrific scene of carnage, chaos, and destruction. He stares in disbelief at the overpasses lying strewn on what remains of the highways. Demolished buildings form gigantic piles of rubble, entombing their dead and screaming occupants. On the highway below, an overturned tanker truck engulfs within its fiery cloak other vehicles around it as well as their trapped motorists.

The shaking stops. A momentary respite only. After 10 seconds, it resumes violently for another 30 to 40 seconds. Cars have piled up in tangled masses of wreckage, others have veered off the highways. Some are ablaze. Some have been buried by landslides. Hundreds of dazed and injured survivors stumble about hysterical, shocked, directionless.

It is now 7:59 a.m. In less than three minutes, thousands of people have been killed and thousands more are injured. Many more have been made homeless. Barely able to control his craft, the pilot is disoriented. Nothing he has seen in Vietnam, on television, or at the movies has prepared him for this. In terror and panic, he tries to find his home. He has flown over it many times before. The familiar landscape is almost unrecognizable. He finds space to land amidst uprooted trees in the park near his home. He runs toward the rubble that used to be his home. He crawls and claws his way over the masonry. There is only one thought in his mind, one prayer: please God, let them be alive, please God....He yells the names of his wife and daughter. There is no answer.


The violence of the shock is a warning to CivilDefense officials on duty, in the stricken area, that a major and possibly catastrophic earthquake has just occurred. At 8:01 am, the Office of Emergency Services in Sacramento, receives an urgent message from the Los Angeles County Civil Defense Warnings Center that a destructive earthquake has struck Southern California and that a state of emergency exists. The urgent message comes in on the California Warning System (CALWAS), the state's emergency telephone system. The announcement is heard simultaneously by all warning points throughout the state. Based on the urgency of the announcement, the Warning Controller on-duty at the headquarters of the Office of Emergency Services (OES) activates the state's Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Following predetermined procedures, the staff of EOC alert the other OES staff, the Governor's Office, the California National Guard (CNG),the California Conservation Corps (CCC), the Emergency Medical Services Authorities (EMSA), the California Highway Patrol (CHP), and many other government and private organizations. The emergency announcements continue to go out to all warning points in the state via CALWAS, to all the warning points throughout the country on the National Warning Network (NAWAS)-a communications system operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and on the North American Defense Communications System (NORAD). One by one, County Civil Defense Centers in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Santa Barbara report to the Sacramento Office, on the same emergency communications system, that a state of emergency exists and the activation of their EOCs.

Within a few minutes after the major shock ends, these officials begin converging on their operating centers in the affected counties. Fortunately, because of the time of the day, some are already at work. Officials from other participating federal and state agencies, trained to respond quickly to such emergencies, attempt to reach their operating centers. The severity of the earthquake is beginning to be realized.

Faults in the vicinity of Los Angeles

The California Institute of Technology provides the Sacramento Office with the earthquake's magnitude and approximate epicenter. The earthquake has magnitude of 8 plus and its epicenter is in the mountains north of San Bernardino. Immediately, the Governor is informed by telephone of the disaster. Cancelling all business and functions the Governor phones the President at the White House to inform him of the disaster, and asks him for federal aid. The governor then makes arrangements to fly to the stricken areas by helicopter, despite the continuing aftershocks, to help direct the relief program.

EOC repeats the Cal Tech information on CALWAS, NAWAS, and NORAD. At 8:10, EOC activates the state's Emergency Broadcast System (EBS). EBS overrides functioning communications media, radio and television, providing the public with preliminary information on the earthquake, its epicenter, magnitude, and initial, unconfirmed reports of the extent of the damage, as provided by local radio operators. The state's EBS gives additional information and issues instructions to survivors on how to maximize their safety and minimize dangers of post-earthquake effects such as those caused by aftershock fires, gas explosions, and tsunamis. Functioning television and radio stations broadcast special announcements and local newscasters relay information as it is reported.

The EOC in Sacramento initiates communications tests with all civil defense centers in Los Angeles; Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties, in the region that has been afflicted. Most are functioning, but some are only on emergence radio communications and emergency power. Orange County's EBS, which was down temporarily, resumes broadcast when an emergency generator is reactivated. Most communication facilities throughout these counties have failed. Radios are the only operable communications medium. There are numerous and unconfirmed reports from amateur radio operators that are relayed to the public by local stations, but these reports are conflicting and create additional confusion.

It is now 8:11. The National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) in Boulder, Colorado provides updated earthquake data from its worldwide network. The magnitude of the earthquake is 8.3 and the epicenter is in the vicinity of the Tehapachi Mountains. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), in Hawaii and the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (ATWC) via NAWAS confirm the magnitude and epicenter of the earthquake.
Brief and incomplete reports from the police, fire departments, and CB operators provide preliminary assessments of the damage and assistance needed. County radio transmissions are monitored and received at Regions I and VI of the OES. One by one the counties report on the disaster.

Disaster Reports

Kern County: A great deal of destruction and numerous deaths and injuries are reported from all areas in the southeast section of Kern County. The telephone service, electricity, gas, and water have been disrupted in Bakersfield. Massive rockslides are reported along Interstate 5 at Grapevine. Highway 99 and I-5 have been heavily damaged from Corpus Road to the south. Poisonous chemical spills are reported from Wheeler Ridge area. Finally, from the southeast section of Kern County, severe damage and a high number of casualties have been reported. Efforts to make contact with the east of the county and with the mountain communities of the Woods and Pine Valleys have failed.

Damage to Bay Bridge from the Earthquake of 1989

Los Angeles County: The Los Angeles County's EOC on Eastern Avenue, utilizing helicopters from the sheriffs department and the L.A. County Fire Department, has begun an aerial reconnaissance of critical facilities and areas. The hardest hit areas are those in the north, particularly Lancaster, Palmdale, Quartz Hills, and Gorman. These have been totally devastated. High casualties are reported. The Los Angeles /Long Beach areas have been seriously damaged. Similarly, central Los Angeles has been seriously impacted and all the freeways are blocked with heavy traffic or abandoned vehicles. At Los Angeles International Airport, critical damage to the control tower and to all the major runways have brought all operations to a halt. All airports are reported to be closed for evaluation of runways and structures supporting the air traffic operations. Thousands of people are left stranded. Fires are reported from the general area of the harbor where the refineries are located. Hospitals in the Newhall area have been damaged and medical facilities are inadequate to treat the vast numbers of injured. The Los Angeles Aqueduct has been severely damaged and a great deal of water can be seen escaping. Traffic is worse on Interstate 405, and the I-55 last Main Street overpass has collapsed with several cars buried underneath.

Orange County: In Orange County, a landslide at Green River has Highway 91 blocked in Santa Anna Canyon. The bridge to Balboa Island has been destroyed. Traffic has been completely stopped on Interstate 405. There are reports of injuries and property damage in the Santa Anna area. Many have been trapped and are injured in the County Administration Building. The death toll in the county is high and increasing. Medical facilities at Irvine Medical Center are reported as being extensively damaged and barely functioning. The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Plant has declared an emergency as its cooling system has been partially destroyed. Personnel are working frantically to shut the plant down and to activate the secondary cooling system to reduce reactor core temperatures that continue to rise. Chemical spills at Westminster are also causing concern.

Riverside County: In Riverside County, the EOC reports failure of all communications. Sketchy reports indicate that parts of Riverside and Corona and other communities along the Santa Ana River have been razed to the ground. However, Palm Springs and Hemet have escaped with only light structural damage. In the worst affected areas, the casualty list is high and growing. Initial reports indicate that over 300 people have died, with thousands more injured. In some areas, looting is taking place. Fires are burning uncontrolled in many parts near the industrial areas. The bridge over the river on Highway 61 has collapsed. The overpass of Highways 60 and 91 have collapsed as well.


San Bernardino County: In San Bernardino County, heavy damage has occurred at the Atchison, Topeka, Santa Fe, Union Pacific, and Southern Pacific railroads due to numerous overpass and bridge failures. A freight train has been derailed between Cajon Pass and Whitewater. Norton Air Force Base and Ontario Airport are nonoperational. High voltage lines have fallen on Highway 191 at Colton. Traffic has been halted at all the intersections of I-5 with I-15 and the I-10 interchange northwest of San Bernardino City. Extensive damage is reported throughout the county except in the mountain communities of Big Bear and Arrowhead where damage is moderate. Several thousand homes have been damaged or destroyed with unknown damage to business and industrial complexes. The death toll is mounting with serious injuries of a thousand or more. St. Bernadine's, Cino General, Doctors Hospital-Monclair, Redlands Community Hospital, and the County Medical Center have all been damaged and are unable to cope with the vast numbers of injured.

Santa Barbara: From Santa Barbara, there are reports of massive landslides at Gaviota Pass on Highway 101 at the San Marcos Pass, isolating the north county area from the south. All attempts to make contact with Quyama Valley have failed. The dam at Twitchell Reservoir has suffered structural damage and water is leaking from it. Telephone, electricity, and water services have been totally disrupted. No specific reports of deaths or injuries have been received.

Ventura County: Ventura County has been devastated, and a high casualty rate is indicated. All telephone, communications, electricity, gas, and water lines have been disrupted. Liquefaction of the ground has caused extensive destruction at Ventura, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, San Pedro, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, and along the entire length of the Santa Ana River. Isolated pockets of liquefaction have also occurred at Inglewood, Pacific Palisades, Beverly Hills, and San Fernando. Bridges have collapsed along the Santa Clara River at Highways 101, 118, and 33. Massive landslides have closed Routes 123,33 north of Ojai, and 150. Industrial fires are burning at Ventura and Newbury Parks. Many schoolchildren have already been trapped at one school in Ventura and many others are trapped in school buses. Some children are reported as roaming aimlessly in the streets. Hundreds of fatalities and injuries are reported. Urgent radio transmissions indicate the need for helicopter transport of casualties.

Only a Partial Scenario of the Disaster

This is only a partial scenario of what could happen if an earthquake of magnitude 8 or greater on the Richter scale struck southern California during the morning rush hour with its epicenter in the mountains northeast of Los Angeles. The scenario is based partially on an earthquake readiness exercise conducted by the State's Emergency Services Office in 1981 and on a reconstruction of the 1857 Fort Tejon earthquake.

What Could Really Happen


If a large earthquake strikes during rush hour southern California around the Los Angeles metropolitan area, similar to the 1857 earthquake, it would kill at least 3,000 to 15,000 people and hospitalize 12,000 to 50,000. Landslides would block highways and all lifeline support systems will be heavily damaged. Multiple other earthquake related disasters would increase the death toll and the destruction.

If a similar earthquake occurred now in the Bay area during the peak of the rush hour, as many as 11,000 to 12,000 people could die and at least 45,000 to 50,000 might be hospitalized. Officials in California have been forewarned by scientists about the strong probability of a large earthquake occurring before the end of the millennium. Scenarios of destruction and emergency plans of action are in preparation in anticipation of such a catastrophe.

Effects of Earthquake Disasters Can Be Minimized with Proper Planning and Preparation

Most Californian residents live with the knowledge that earthquakes, at least minor ones, are a part of their lives. Their homes and places of work are mostly of unknown earthquake resistance. As yet, insufficient thought has been given to the imminent prospect of an earthquake of devastating proportions. The responses of many are unrealistic or fatalistic. The former do not believe a serious earthquake will happen in their lifetime, while the latter feel that even if it does, nothing can be done about it.

Neither avoidance nor resignation will lower the casualty list or save lives. Awareness and preparedness will. Among the many misconceptions on the subject, one of the commonest is that only the most destructive earthquakes kill directly. In fact, most deaths are caused by structures falling and collapsing, such as buildings, dams, and bridges. Gas lines rupturing cause fires. Other hazards may include landslides, or local tsunamis that would only affect the coastal areas.

Earthquake-related fatalities, injuries, and property destruction can be avoided or minimized by correct planning, construction, engineering, and land utilization. Education programs that teach earthquake awareness and safety measures should be taught throughout the state in schools, colleges, at home, and at the place of work.

Structures can be built that are earthquake resistant. Many buildings and homes can be reinforced at a small cost to the individual, company, or state to withstand the effects of an earthquake. Lowering water level in potentially vulnerable dams would also help to limit the destruction. Nuclear power plants and other hazardous enterprises should not be permitted to function in areas that are earthquake-prone. Regardless of the expense, Californians should view any earthquake preparedness and planning as their most valuable asset and investment. Preparations made in the next few years will largely decide whether Californians die in or survive the Big One.

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THE BIG ONE - The Next Great California Earthquake -TABLE OF CONTENTS


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