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April 18, 2014

What would the 1906 earthquake look like today?

Looking across Gough Street from Lafayette Park in 1906/now

Today is the 108th anniversary of the devastating M7.8 San Francisco earthquake. As with any “quakiversary” it’s a ripe opportunity for reflection on how earthquake knowledge and engineering have progressed since we learned from that disaster, and to consider how we would fare if faced with the same catastrophe today. One powerful way to consider how modern-day San Francisco would fare in a repeat of the 1906 quake is by …


December 9, 2013

AGU 2013: Earth Science-palooza

gateway to AGU ... from the Central Valley

After braving excruciating cold, ice-bound airports, and snow-covered mountain passes to get here, some 21,000 Earth Scientists have descended on San Francisco for the annual AGU Fall Meeting. They’ll all be happy to know that the National Weather Service calls for freezing temperatures in all areas except San Francisco tonight. So everyone from Back East can still pretend they’re having a balmy California vacation while we locals wrap our heads …


September 24, 2012

San Francisco 1906 + Today

Shawn Clover is back with a second installment of "The Earthquake Blend," photo mashups from 1906 quake/fire aftermath and today.

Photographer Shawn Clover, whose clever and chilling project “The Earthquake Blend” I’ve posted about before, has expanded the project with a second installment. Shawn describes the delay, explaining the exacting standards he strives for when recreating the photos. His perfectionism regarding vantage, lighting, and lack of new obstructions is what makes the photography so chilling. As in Part I, the juxtaposition of modern life in SF with scenes of the same …


June 26, 2012

Fantastic Cal Academy Earthquake exhibit

Earthquake, Life on a Dynamic Planet is the fantastic new exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco

Earlier this month the California Academy of Sciences–the superb science museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park that efficiently and gracefully combines a natural history museum, science museum, aquarium, zoo/rain forest biodome, and immersive planetarium dome, all under one prairie-covered roof–unveiled its summer 2012 exhibit all about earthquakes. The exhibit, titled Earthquake, Life on a Dynamic Planet, premiered on May 25, so naturally I was among the first in line at the museum’s …


April 11, 2012

Earthquake photo mash-ups

"Two girls stand before the partially destroyed Sharon Building in Golden Gate Park while students work on their art projects inside." Photograph blend by Shawn Clover. More can be found at

San Francisco-based photographer Shawn Clover came up with a creative project: not only did he re-create classic photos of the 1906 earthquake’s destruction from the same vantage points as the original shots, but he’s blended the old and new together in surreal, oddly amusing, and moderately alarming photo stitches. From the photographer’s website: Where was the exact spot the photographer stood? What was the equivalent focal length of his camera’s …


April 18, 2011

105th Anniversary of SF’s 1906 quake

Maximum shaking intensity as a result of the 1906 earthquake: the results of a large concerted effort by the USGS and several California universities to simulate major earthquake ruptures throughout the state

5:12 a.m. PDT this morning marked the 105-year anniversary of “the San Francisco earthquake,” the >400 km rupture of the northern San Andreas fault that began just offshore and propagated along the fault in both directions for several minutes, all the while churning and twisting the blossoming city above it. It’s helpful to take a moment and reflect upon the reality of the event. I get the impression that such …


March 15, 2011

Footage of the March 11 tsunami around the Pacific

Tidal gauging station from the central coast of Japan on March 11, recording the onset of the tsunami. The green line below is the "risidual," which is effectively the difference between the water level and the expected tide.

Plenty of news organizations have been collecting the extensive footage of last week’s tsunami generated by the M8.9 earthquake in Japan, so following along with them is a great way to keep up with the utterly humbling images from the interface between humanity and this planet’s powerful nature. In particular the BBC has compilations of video from Japan, CNN has a scary view, and the L.A. Times has some footage …