San Francisco Earthquake

San Francisco Earthquake

On April 18, 1906, shortly after 5:00 a.m., a great earthquake struck San Francisco and a long narrow band of towns, villages, and countryside to the north-northwest and south-southeast. Many buildings were wrecked; hundreds of people were killed; electric power lines and gas mains were broken. Fires broke out and burned wildly for days, utterly out of control because of severed water mains.

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The ground had broken open for more than 270 miles along a great fault – the San Andreas rift. The country on the east side of the rift had moved southward relative to the country on the west side of the rift. The greatest displacement had been 21 feet about 30 miles northwest of San Francisco.

Nearly all the scientists in California began immediately to assemble observations on the results of the quake. Professor A.C. Lawson, chairman of the geology department at the University of California, took the first steps that led to Governor George C. Pardees appointment, three days after the shock, of a State Earthquake Investigation Commission to unify the work of scientific investigations then under way. The members of this Commission were Professor Lawson, Chairman; J.C. Branner, professor of geology at Stanford University; Charles

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