Monday, August 31, 2009

Today In History: An earthquake where?

On this date in 1886, Charleston, South Carolina was rocked by a brief and vicious tremor that killed about a hundred and did six million dollars in property damage (back when $24 million would have bought you the whole city.)

We visited Charleston a few times when I was young and it's hard to say which sticks in my mind more firmly: the USS Yorktown, or the "earthquake bolts" that protruded from the walls of stately old Georgian houses like the hardware from the neck of Frankenstein's monster.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm no longer surprised by earthquakes anywhere. A few years ago, there was a tremor in Richmond, Va that I felt in Mclean, Va (within spitting distance of DC). It felt like a truck had backed into our building.

Earlier this year, there was a tremor in SW Va. I lived there for years and never felt an earthquake.

We joke about Cali falling into the ocean, but it might just the East Coast that does it. :D

Chris

Weer'd Beard said...

This is my big SHTF scare in this area. The I-93 tunnel travels directly under some of the most populace parts of Boston (including the Hancock and Prudential towers) and in our shoddy engineering seismic interaction was not considered.

So besides some asshole blowing up a truck bomb in the center of the tunnel, if one of the few dormant fault lines decides to wake up we could be in for a few very scary days in Metro-Bean-Town....

Stretch said...

A major East Coast fault line is visible at at the falls along the James, Rappahannock, Potomac, and other rivers. All of DC south of Constitution Ave. is fill and will turn to sludge as did San Francisco's Marina District. Fault line extents through southern end of Manhattan Island. Now there's a disaster movie I'd watch!!

DirtCrashr said...

The Marina District didn't really turn to sludge, but since it's fill and mud it did experience "liquifaction" in which such stuff behaves more like pudding than a solid. It's not that buildings and things sink down into the ground so much as the amplitude of the quake-waves can more freely accelerate, and structures can't withstand the base movement and come loose from the foundation and fall over. Old brick with no re-bar or anchoring is especially vulnerable since each brick can just about vibrate separately from the mortar and then there's nothing holding the building together but its own weight...
So we like to use wood for construction because it floats! :-)

alath said...

Which Yorktown?
The only one I'm aware of is the one that went down off Midway.

Anonymous said...

alath - A new Yorktown, CV/CVS 10, an Essex-class carrier was built in 1943. It was decommissioned in 1970.

Will said...

The Mississippi Valley quakes of 1811-12 were felt as far as NYC and Quebec. Supposedly, the MS River shifted as much as 6 miles at some point. Lakes became higher and drained, smaller water courses disappeared, roads became impassable due to large crevasses, and at least one town was destroyed.
Experts say repeats are due anytime. Seems the type of soil east of the Rockies makes quake effects travel farther and do more damage than the ones on the West Coast at the same Richter Scale numbers. Only equivalent quakes around the world were some in India in the 1800's !!!

Wonder if the soil conditions are due to the Yellowstone Mega Volcano eruptions?

CGHill said...

I used to live in Charleston (not during the 1886 quake - I'm old, but I'm not that old), and to hear people talk, it was just a few weeks ago. Then again, ol' Chucktown dates back to 1670, so a matter of 80-odd years (I left in 1969) is trivial to them.

Wonderful, if occasionally sweaty, place to live.

Anonymous said...

Back when I lived in L.A., one of the jokes going around was that one day there would be a great earthquake in California and the East Coast would fall into the Atlantic...

Think of kids playing "crack the whip"...or do they do that any more?

Old Squid.