The word, SYZYGY, is in your dictionary, surprisingly enough. It refers to an alignment of celestial bodies, primarily the Sun, Moon, and Earth, and it happens twice a month at the time of a new or full Moon. At such times, the gravitational forces are in line, and the ocean tides (as well as the solid Earth tides) are at a maximum, especially if the bodies are close together. The Earth and Moon are closest (at perigee) once a month; the Earth and Sun are closest (perihelion) once a year in early January. Thus the most extreme gravitational stress on the Earth's crust and oceans must occur in early January, if a syzygy and perigee occur on the same day. The optimum such example in 600 years was on January 4, 1912, when syzygy and perigee were only six minutes apart. On that day the strongest quake (5.5M) in California/Nevada in two years occurred near Bishop, California. Under less extreme conditions but within a day of syzygy we find such notable earthquakes as: Long Beach, CA(1933), Tehachapi, CA(1952), Olympia, WA (1949), Hebgen Lake, MO (1959), Anchorage, Alaska (1964), San Fernando, CA(1971), Tangshan, China (1976), Eureka, CA(1980), Landers, CA(1992), and Kobe, Japan (1995). The World Series Earthquake was publicly predicted by this method when the maximum tidal force in two years occurred on October 14, 1989, less than four days before the devastating 7.1M quake. The Seattle Quake of January 28, 1995 was predicted on Seattle television and radio less than six days before the strongest Seattle shaker in 30 years struck on January 28, 1995, the day after perigee and two days before New Moon.

In 1995 (through July) Seismic Windows helped predict the three strongest earthquakes in western Washington, the three strongest in the S. F. Bay area, and 12 of the 14 major earthquakes in the world. If someone tells you that earthquakes cannot be predicted, don't believe them. Try it yourself, anyone can do it. (the hard part is being right.)

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DON'T BE SCARED! BE PREPARED!
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1912 Bishop, California (1/4 7:52pm)
Richter Magnitude: 5.5 ML
Mercalli Intensity: VI
Number of Deaths:
Property Damage:
Other Information: Felt in Fresno.

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1933 Long Beach, California (3/10 5:54pm)
Richter Magnitude: 6.3 Mw
Mercalli Intensity: IX
Number of Deaths: 135+-
Property Damage: > $50,000,000
Other Information:











There was a 3.8M foreshock on March 9th! This earthquake occurred 3 miles south of present-day Huntington Beach on the Newport-Inglewood fault. Most of the damaged buildings were of unreinforced masonry. Many school buildings were destroyed. The Earthquake led to many building codes being improved and the Field Act, which gave the State Division of Architecture authority and responsibility for approving design and supervising construction of public schools. There were at least 12 aftershocks of magnitude 5 or greater.
A Special Governor's Commission reported a little known, but scary statistic:
>From the devastation of the schools, it was estimated that if the quake had occurred 3 or 4 hours earlier, while schools were still in session, the southland would have lost between 10,000-30,000 school children.
That is why the state legislators acted with amazing alacrity to adopt the Field Act less than three weeks after the March 10th Long Beach Quake.

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1949 Olympia, Washington (4/13 11:56am)
Richter Magnitude: 7.1 Mb
Mercalli Intensity: VIII
Number of Deaths: 8
Property Damage: $25,000,000
Other Information:
















A deep Puget Sound earthquake between Tacoma and Olympia. Substantial damage to old masonry buildings, ground settlement caused significant damage to both new and old buildings, some of Olympia's industrial area settled 5 inches, 40% of buildings and houses were damaged in Centralia, in Chehalis 4 schools, the City Hall, the library, and the court house were damaged considerably(all were built on solid ground). Washington schools sustained a high level of damage, 30 schools were damaged, 10 were condemned and closed. A large brick gable of Lafayette Elementary School collapsed directly onto an area used for assembly of pupils at the time of day the earthquake occurred. The Washington State Training School for Boys, in Chehalis, sustained severe damage when a gable collapsed. Fatalities and injuries to school children would have been much higher had many schools not been on spring vacation. It's estimated that more than 10,000 chimneys in northwestern Washington required repair. Seventy-five percent of the chimneys in Chehalis had to be replaced. Damage to the Capitol and other structures in the State Capitol complex was severe. 24 breaks were reported in water mains in Olympia. In Tacoma, water mains broke. A 60-inch main broke at the Seattle city reservoir. Centralia's water system was badly damaged. Power failures in Seattle. Gas lines broke at nearly 100 points. Damaged bridges in Seattle and Tacoma would not open and close.

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1952 Tehachapi, California (7/21 4:52am)
Richter Magnitude: 7.7 ML
Mercalli Intensity: XI
Number of Deaths: 12 Dead, 18 seriously injured
Property Damage: $50,000,000
Other Information:















Also known as the Kern County Earthquake, 23 miles south of Bakersfield on the White Wolf fault. The Largest Earthquake in Southern California since the Fort Tejon earthquake of 1857(95 years) and Owens Valley of 1872(80 years, more Central and Eastern), and caused maximum elevation change of 4 feet. Felt in Reno, Nevada, required a construction project in Las Vegas, Nevada to realign structural steel, felt in San Francisco, Power outtages occured in Los Angeles, with some minor building damage, even damaged a building in San Diego! At Owens Lake, over 80 miles away, the shaking broke a pipeline and damaged a mining operation. In the Kern County area, hundreds of buildings were damaged, at least 100 had to be torn down, Railroad tunnels collapsed and rails bent in S-shape, wreaked havoc on agriculture in the Arvin area, and major relevelling had to be done in many places. There were at least 20 aftershocks of magnitude 5 or greater, and 3 of 6 or greater, claiming 2 more lives, 35 injuries, and an additional $10,000,000 in damage. Quake was a surprise to geologists and seismologists, not only was the fault not considered a major threat, but the size seemed disproportionate to the length of the fault which ruptured(34 miles), compare this to the nearly 250 miles of the San Andreas which broke in the magnitude 8 Fort Tejon quake of 1857.

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1959 Hegben Lake, Montana (8/17 10:37pm)
Richter Magnitude: 7.1 ML
Mercalli Intensity: X
Number of Deaths: 28
Property Damage: $11,000,000 to roads alone.
Other Information:

Huge Landslide dammed river and created a lake. Vertical displacement 6.5 meters. Within 24 hours 2 aftershocks of magnitude 6.5, 2 of magnitude 6.0, and 1 magnitude 5.6 occured

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1964 Anchorage, Alaska (3/27 5:36pm)
Richter Magnitude: 8.4
Mercalli Intensity: XI
Number of Deaths: 131
Property Damage: $800,000,000 (estimates vary)
Other Information:




Damaging Tsunami hit California, killing 5 and causing $10,000,000 in damage. One of the Stongest quakes in recorded history, rupture was 800 kilometers long. Shoreline rose 10 meters in places and settled 2 meters elsewhere. Estimated that about 200,000 square kilometers of the earth's crust was deformed. Major liquefaction(solid soil and sand turn to liquid state) occured.

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1971 San Fernando, California (2/9 6:00am)
Richter Magnitude: 6.4
Mercalli Intensity: XI
Number of Deaths: 65 Dead, 1,000 injured
Property Damage: $550,000,000
Other Information:









Was the strongest quake to strike the greater Los Angeles area in 50 years. Felt over an area of 80,000 square miles. Ground ruptures were extensive, causing collapse of houses, rumpling of sidewalls, and widespread damage to utilities. Vertical and horizontal shifts of up to 6 feet resulted. Peaks in excess of 1g acceleration of ground motion were recorded(a record at the time). Veterans Hospital in Sylmar partially collapsed causing 45 deaths. 80,000 people were evacuated when the earth fill dam on Lower Van Norman Lake broke down. A dozen freeway overpasses were severely damaged(several fell), which had been built to accepted standards. 675 buildings in Los Angeles had major structrual damage, and another 900 sustained moderate damage. There were 68 aftershocks in the first three hours after the quake.

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1976 Tangshan, China (7/27)
Richter Magnitude: 8.1
Mercalli Intensity:
Number of Deaths: 655,000+- , > 500,000 injured
Property Damage: Great Economic Damage
Other Information:













Sparse information is available on this quake, due to its location. Official Chinese death toll reported 2 years after the event is 242,000, though the U.N. and other sources estimates made shortly after the quake state at least 655,000 deaths occurred. A 7.6M aftershock strock the next day. This disaster is 2nd only to the 1556 Shensi Povince Quake which killed an estimated 840,000 people.
Sitemasters NOTE: This quake is often used to discount the feasability of quake prediction, one year earlier the Chinese government warned the population of another city that a quake was probable, the citizens slept outdoors, the quake hit, and a death toll which could have been similar to the Tangshan Quakes was prevented. The story goes, Why didn't they warn the people of Tangshan? They must not know what they're doing. Isn't it better to try to save one from dying, then to wait till the next day and read in the paper about the two dead? might have been able to give a warning, had more information in the epicentral area been available prior to the quake. Now, considering that we have, for the most part, far better constructed buildings, it is unlikely that we would need to "sleep outdoors". Preparedness is the key.

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1980 Eureka, California (11/8 2:27am)
Richter Magnitude: 7.25 Mw
Mercalli Intensity: VII
Number of Deaths:
Property Damage: $1,750,000
Other Information:

Although centered off the coast, felt over 97,000 square kilometers. Four aftershocks of magnitude 5 or greater followed within 24 hours.

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1989 Loma Prieta, California (10/17 5:04pm)
Richter Magnitude: 7.1
Mercalli Intensity: IX
Number of Deaths: 63 Dead, 3,757 Injured
Property Damage: $10,000,000,000
Other Information:






















Known as "World Series Quake", as 62,000+ fans filled Candlestick Park for the 3rd game of the World Series. 20 second quake, centered 60 miles south of San Francisco on 30 mile segment of San Andreas Fault, and felt as far away as San Diego and western Nevada. Cypress Street section of I-880 in Oakland collapsed, causing most of the deaths. Section of San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge collapsed. Areas including Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Hollister, and Los Gatos, suffered heavy damage. Declared disaster area for the seven hardest-hit counties, from Monterey and San Benito in the south to Marin and Solano in the north. Over 12,000 people were left homeless. Over 18,000 homes were damaged and 963 were destroyed. Over 2,500 other buildings were damaged and 147 were destroyed. The depth 11 miles, unusual for California earthquakes, which are usually 4 to 6 miles deep. A 5.2 aftershock occurred 2.5 minutes after the main shock, in the week following, a total of 300 more of 2.5 or greater and 20 greater than 4.0. A repeat the 1865 event and is the first major rupture along the San Andreas since 1906. This rupture was unusual for the San Andreas Fault, as past earthquakes have been the result of horizontal slip of the ground on the two sides of the fault, with the southwest side moving northwest relative to the northeast side. The Loma Prieta Earthquake included not only this horizontal slip, but also a significant thrusting of the southwest side up and over the northeast side. Peak ground shaking as strong as 0.65g in both the horizontal and vertical directions in the epicentral area. Runway at Oakland airport, bridges along the Pajaro and Salinas Rivers, and the San Jose State Marine Station in Moss Landing were all damaged by liquefaction. Severe damage to the I-280 skyway. Caused thousands of landslides as far north as just south of San Francisco. Large fissures opened throughout the Bay Area. A major fire was in the Marina district, 34 other fires, also mains supplying water to the district burst.

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1992 Landers, California (6/28 4:58am)
Richter Magnitude: 7.4 ML
Mercalli Intensity: VIII
Number of Deaths: 1 Dead, 400 Injured
Property Damage: < $100,000,000
Other Information:






Surface Rupture over 70 kilometers, horizontal offset over 3 meters, triggered 6.5 Big Bear quake/aftershock which occured within hours. Largest quake in continental U.S. in 40 years. Fortunately for most, this large quake occured in a realitively unpopulated area. Felt as far away as New Mexico, Colorado, and Idaho. In San Bernardino (about 50 miles west), 4,300 homes were damaged and 77 destroyed, 139 businesses sustained damage and 27 were destroyed, over 600 mobile homes fell off their foundations. Highest peak acceleration was measured in Daggett at 0.4g's.

1992 Big Bear, California (6/28 8:05am)
Richter Magnitude: 6.5 ML
Mercalli Intensity: VII
Number of Deaths: Included above
Property Damage: Included above
Other Information:





While sometimes officially listed as an Aftershock of the Landers Quake, and other times, as a Triggered Event, this quake could stand on its own as a significant Southern California seismic event. Occuring over 40 kilometers west, on a different fault, with a different orientation and slip, than the Landers Quake, it is included in the above description due to the impossibility of seperating which quake caused which damage. Highest peak acceleration recorded near the fault was 1.2g's.

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1995 Kobe, Japan (01/16)
Richter Magnitude: 6.9
Mercalli Intensity:
Number of Deaths: 5400 Dead, 27,000 injured
Property Damage: Over 100,000 buildings destroyed
Other Information:

Large fires, Mass Destruction, mostly to older structures but some which were considered sound collapsed or toppled over.

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1995 Seattle, Washington (1/28 7:11pm)
Richter Magnitude: 5.1
Mercalli Intensity: V
Number of Deaths: 0
Property Damage: Minimal
Other Information: Strongest Seattle earthquake in almost 30 years.

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