EPS 24: Freshmen seminar - Spring 2006

The Great 1906 Earthquake:
A turning point for science, a lesson for society


Class Description

The 1906 earthquake and firestorm was a defining moment in U.S. history. The city of San Francisco had grown rapidly over the previous decades, but local government had become complacent and corrupt during the boom years. The study of earthquakes was in its infancy as instruments to accurately record ground shaking were only just being developed and the San Andreas Fault was unknown. In this seminar we will read about the scientific investigation that followed the earthquake, and about the societal response to the disaster. Could a disaster of this scale have been predicted? Were the lessons learned incorporated into the rebuilding of the city? We will also look to the future prospects for earthquakes in the San Francisco Bay Area. Given the great advances in seismology over the last hundred years, what are our predictions for disasters of the future, and how has our societal infrastructure developed to reduce the potential impacts? The seminar will meet for one hour each week during the semester to discuss the readings. Students may be asked to bring in written questions on the week's readings, or to write a short paragraph about what struck them in the readings, but no term paper will be assigned. We may also visit local exhibits relating to the 1906 earthquake.

Prof. Richard Allen
Prof. Barbara Romanowicz

Class meetings: Thu 2pm in 220 McCone (Note 4 Wed evening meetings)
This is a 1 credit class that is available P/NP

For more information contact: Richard Allen