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General Information Product 21

Earthquake Science Explained—A Series of Ten Short Articles for Students, Teachers, and Families

Compiled by Matthew A. d’Alessio


set of four old black-and-white photos from the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake showing damage


Recent images of massive earthquake-induced waves washing away entire towns or buildings reduced to rubble by the violent shaking of Earth’s crustal plates have underlined, all too painfully, the importance of understanding our dynamic and ever-changing Earth. These natural earthquake hazards will always be with us, but the consequences are not inevitable—if we prepare for them. An essential part of that preparation is education. Education is the key to ensuring that people take appropriate actions when living in earthquakeprone areas and for supporting policies and decisions that will save lives and property.

Earthquake Science Explained is a series of short articles for students, teachers, and parents originally published as weekly features in The San Francisco Chronicle. This U.S. Geological Survey General Information Product presents some of the new understanding gained and scientific advances made in the century since the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Concepts introduced in each feature are designed to address State and national science-education standards. Written by our scientists, the articles go beyond traditional textbook information to discuss state-of-the-art thinking and technology that we use today.

We encourage you to explore this informative publication as well as the U.S. Geological Survey’s science education Web site at, and we further invite you to become our long-term partners exploring the full range of our science for a changing world.

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Get the Earthquake articles now. (18 pages; 1.2 MB PDF file)

For questions about the content of this report, contact Matthew A. d’Alessio

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Maintained by: Michael Diggles
Created: January 27, 2006
Last modified: January 30, 2006 (mfd)