Earthquakes in the Archives

USC Libraries

Earthquakes in the Archives

L.A. as Subject's latest contribution to the KCET SoCal Focus blog examines how Southern California archives can help us discover the region's seismic history:

This past Monday was the 105th anniversary of a 7.9 magnitude earthquake that left much of San Francisco in ruins. In the age of Twitter and ubiquitous camera phones, a digital trail of images and video, data and real-time dispatches from the scene follows every quake, documenting the destruction and the human response. For earthquakes that rattled the Southland more than 75 or 100 years ago, the digital trail goes cold, and we look to the region's archives to discover the damage, the fear—and sometimes awe—and the politics that marked our seismic history.

On January 9, 1857, the San Andreas Fault produced the strongest recorded earthquake in California history. Named after Fort Tejon in northern Los Angeles County, where the most powerful shaking was reported, the 8.0 quake created a continuous surface rupture along the San Andreas Fault for at least 220 miles, from the town of Parkfield in San Luis Obispo County to the Cajon Pass.

Keep reading the full post on the KCET website.