In news that will be ill-received by any San Franciscan who's just invested in a major kitchen remodel, our city -- and your kitchen -- are due to be pulverized and returned to the dust from whence they came.
A cheery article by lead author David Schwartz in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America -- a periodical that ought to be found in every local Realtor's waiting room -- is titled The Earthquake Cycle in the San Francisco Bay Region: A.D. 1600-2012. It's a disturbing read for anyone who has invested in property or enjoys not being crushed.
Locals live in fear of a repeat of "The Big One" of 1906; the 1989 temblor that prevented the Giants from winning even one game in the World Series was a mere firecracker compared to the '06 A-Bomb. But, per Schwartz' study, that '06 quake bought modern-day people decades of peace and continued existence.
"Stress changes produced by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake had a profound effect on the seismicity of the San Francisco Bay region (SFBR), dramatically reducing it in the twentieth century," reads the study's abstract. In plainer English, the Big One released eons of pent-up seismic pressure in one fell, deadly swoop.
But, analyzing patterns tracing back to the 17th century, the authors suggest earthquake activity may be cyclical. They point to a flurry of quakes between 1690 and 1776 prior to low seismic activity until '06.
Our seismic past does not necessarily portend our seismic future. We could be wiped out any time now. Or not. But it also presents the grim scenario that our demise may not come via one massive quake but a series of big-enough quakes.
It's all morbid and fascinating and morbidly fascinating. And, in the end, we all knew this was the ultimate price for living in this place.
So, be sure to write the contractor a check for the kitchen job. And make sure it clears. Because what tomorrow brings, no one knows.