December 3, 2012
Phil Clifford, PhD.
How can my family be prepared for an earthquake? This question haunts countless residents in the Los Angeles area every day. Hopefully we here at the Earthquake Preparedness Center can shed some light on how you can protect your family. My name is Darin Fort and I am the Director of Earthquake Preparedness for Los Angeles. As with any danger, knowledge of the event is of upmost importance. Some questions that should be asked by anyone who wants to defend their home against earthquakes are: What are the origins and causes of earthquakes and what is the relation of earthquakes to plate tectonics and faults in Los Angeles? What are some historical disasters associated with earthquakes? What are the hazards associated with earthquakes? What is the potential for future earthquakes in the Los Angeles area? Earthquakes are started at the Earth’s crust. Our planet is made up of different plates which float on a layer of molten material or magma much like potato chips would float on top of a bowl of water. Scientists believe there could be as many as 12 plates that make up Earth’s crust. These plates move freely like bumper cars: pulling away from each other, moving side to side or laterally, and even smashing into each other. The proof behind plate tectonics lies in mountain ranges and island chains like the Hawaiian Islands, both are products of plate tectonics. Earthquakes originate from plate boundaries called faults. The tension and movement between the conflicting faults is what causes the shock waves referred to as an earthquake. When the pressure between two conflicting plates is too much for the rock material to support, they can shift or break dramatically. The exact underground point where this occurs is the focus. Many people are familiar with the above ground version of the focus called the epicenter. When the...