At the court of King Minos by John Butterfield, David Honigmann, Philip Parker, Daniel

By John Butterfield, David Honigmann, Philip Parker, Daniel Woods

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But during that short time the trembling earth can knock over mountains, change the course of rivers, or completely wipe out cities. The largest earthquakes in the continental United States probably occurred in New Madrid, Missouri, in 1811 and 1812. The stronger of them was felt from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and from the east coast to the Rocky Mountains. 28 29 Where do earthquakes usually occur? CALIFORNIA Along faults. Faults are cracks or weaknesses in rock, usually along the borders of plates.

Seismographs can pick up foreshocks. Special measuring systems can also detect any tilting or bulging of the land or the slightest tremor. Scientists sometimes test well water for traces of radon. Radon is a gas released from rocks under stress. If the radon level is up, an earthquake may be on its way. As scientists learn more about the structure of the earth, they improve their ability to predict earthquakes. Where and when did an earthquake prediction save lives? In Yingkou, Manchuria, February 1975.

As many as 3,000 people may have lost their lives. Huge fires blazed, destroying about 28,000 of the wooden buildings of the city. The fires burned for three days because the water pipes had burst and there was no water to fight the flames. During the earthquake, a cow fell headfirst into a crack that opened suddenly in the ground. It closed just as quickly, leaving only the cow’s tail sticking out. How often do major earthquakes strike California? About once every 18 years. But the rate seems to be picking up.

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