1556 Shaanxi Earthquake (02:01)
Scientists know where earthquakes prone zones are located, but cannot pinpoint when an event will occur. The world's worst destroyed a 500 mile wide area, and killed 830,000 people, most dwelling in Yaodongs. The seismic event set off landslides, covering their mountain cave homes.
Measurement and Massive Events (04:43)
Earthquakes are caused by shifting and sliding of tectonic plates; submarine types create tsunamis. The Richter Scale was developed in 1935. The San Andreas fault line created a San Francisco quake in 1906; it ignited fires, left 250,000 homeless, and killed 3,000. In 1960, a quake struck Chile's southern coast, killing 2,290.
On December 7th, 1988, an earthquake destroyed Spitak; poorly constructed buildings crumbled around occupants. Emergency response was slow; the government requested international aid. Twenty-five-thousand died, 15,000 were injured and 500,000 left homeless.
In 1923, the Great Kanto collapsed construction, sparked fires, and killed 140,000. In 1995, an earthquake struck Kobe; thousands were trapped beneath debris while 150 blazes ignited. Transportation lines were destroyed; the Great Hanshin killed 6,000, injured 37,000, and damaged 200,000 buildings.
In 1999, Izmit was struck by the strongest earthquake to hit an industrial area; seismic codes were largely ignored and buildings constructed on land were susceptible to liquefaction. The economic impact was estimated at 20 billion dollars. The event occurred along the North Anatolian fault, prone to causing powerful activity.
The Longmenshan Fault ruptured in 2009, creating a 7.9 magnitude earthquake; it killed 69,227, injured 374,176, and left five million homeless. Eighty percent of buildings in Beichuan County were destroyed. Government and international aid responded quickly; scientists believe the event was triggered by the Zipingpu Dam.
Seismic science was equivalent to educated guessing. Doctor Ross Stein discovered connections between earthquakes sharing fault lines; Geoffrey King used the earthquake storm theory to predict the 1999 event in Izmit. Damages can be limited when preventative measures are taken and construction is up to code.
Credits: Quakes From Hell (00:29)
Credits: Quakes From Hell
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