108. California's Earthquakes

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One of the main reasons for California's beauty is the tectonic plate movement beneath the surface of the state. This movement is responsible for some of California's breathtaking mountain ranges and deep valleys. California is part of a large area of land called the Ring of Fire that surrounds the Pacific Ocean. It is a hotbed of volcanic activity and earthquakes.

California has had its share of earthquakes over the years. The most famous was the Great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. The city was completely unprepared for an earthquake of this magnitude. The quake was estimated to measure 7.8 on the Richter scale. More than 80 percent of the city was destroyed, and an estimated 3,000 people lost their lives.

San Francisco was again hit by a large earthquake in October 1989. The Loma Prieta quake measured 6.9 on the Richter scale, and occurred during the World Series, an annual championship series of baseball. Although the loss of life was minimal compared with other quakes, it had a profound effect on the transportation system in the city.

Southern California has suffered its share of quakes also. In 1971, the region was hit in Sylmar, just north of Los Angeles; in 1994, the area was devastated in the Northridge quake. Other smaller, but none-the-less frightening, and dangerous quakes have plagued both regions.

Because of these disasters, building codes have improved greatly. This has helped minimize the number of deaths suffered from these quakes. Furthermore, engineers are constantly at work to improve buildings. Americans have the ability, knowledge, and determination to survive and thrive in the face of danger.

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