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Download The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Fault Line Between Reason and Faith epub

by David L. Ulin

Earthquakes are one of the great unsolved geological mysteries. Attempts to predict them have ranged from studies of California’s fault lines by USGS geologists to the work of an odd assortment of psychics and apocalyptics who base their sometimes startlingly accurate forecasts on everything from changes in the earth’s magnetic fields to the behavior of whales. The Myth of Solid Ground is a journey, both personal and cultural, through the world of earthquakes and earthquake prediction, one that seeks a middle ground between science and superstition, while also looking for a larger context in which seismicity might make sense. An excellent primer on the science of seismology, The Myth of Solid Ground looks at earthquakes as the ultimate metaphor for living with impending disaster.
Download The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Fault Line Between Reason and Faith epub
ISBN: 0143035258
ISBN13: 978-0143035251
Category: History
Subcategory: Americas
Author: David L. Ulin
Language: English
Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (July 26, 2005)
Pages: 304 pages
ePUB size: 1245 kb
FB2 size: 1152 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 621
Other Formats: lrf doc docx doc

David Ulin, writer and Angelino, has the same needs as anyone else living in southern California, including the need to somehow come to grips with life in earthquake country. The Myth Of Solid Ground is the extended version of his physical and intellectual wanderings on the way to learning to become comfortable with quakes. Early in the book, Mr. Ulin, NOT a science writer, starts to veer into 4 or 3 star review territory when he spends a lot of time interviewing earthquake predictors and shows less skepticism than I usually like to read about, but I hung in with the book and found Ulin's conclusions satisfactory for a layperson. Ulin eventually discusses his meetings with many of the scientists currently involved with earthquake prediction [including telegenic Lucy Jones and hirsute Allan Lindh] and visits Parkfield, California, earthquake capitol of the world, BEFORE it finally had its long-awaited 6.0 earthquake [September 28, 2004 - after the publication of the book]. Ultimately, Ulin's son Noah seems to have the best answer for dealing with earthquakes [I won't spoil the end of the book by telling you how Noah deals with a quake, but I will say it's very close to how I deal with quakes]. Despite my early misgivings about the book, ultimately all the material hung together as an interesting and informative narrative and I do recommend the book.
saving to read it, but so happy to have it. an important work.
There is a need for a discussion of the psychology of earthquakes. We need to understand how and why we think and misthink about their risk. That's not what this book is. This book is a highly personal account of the thoughts of one man who, if he knows much about the geology of earthquakes, doesn't let it show in the book. It's unstructured, rambling, and at times even incoherent. Rarely can I resell a nonfiction that I've read because of all the underlying and notation that I do, but there's nary a mark in my copy of this one. The only worthwhile parts are mildly entertaining accounts of some crackpot earthquake predictors.
This is a very different,but nonetheless,an excellent book about earthquakes.What is it like to live in an active earthquake zone? Well,the author does, and tells us what it is like and how he rationalizes it all with himself. He shares these personal feelings with us and leaves one( particularly one who does not live there) with the feeling of what it is like to have the threat hanging always over your head;that a big one could happen at any time. You don't know where,when or how powerful;the only thing is, that they are certain to come.Most importantly ;if you do live must go on,and we'll deal with it all when it happens.
David covers a lot of ground in this book. Some reviewers have suggested that it is disjointed and somewhat chaotic
in the way it is written.I can see what they mean,but isn't that appropriate for a book dealing with a subject as disjointed and chaotic as earthquakes?
He gives a ton of details about earthquakes in California and even some idea of how they tie into earthquakes around the world. He fairly extensively covers the whole business of trying to predict earthquakes,why they occur and what is really known about them and why their prediction is so difficult.He covers the many theories and shows that just as some concensus starts to gel,a new earthquake occurs,that completely ignores the theory. Concensus is not science,no matter how many agree. Statements abound throughout the book that fit the study of earthquakes,such as; "heard it somewhere,from someone else along the never-ending daisy chain of myth.", "the unpredictability of earthquake prediction",when it comes to observation,what we look for is what we get","earthquakes will always confound our expectations,no matter what we think we know","and most poignent of all; "To find out,you'd have to ask the San Andreas,and the San Andreas keeps its secrets close."
Another very interesting book about earthquakes is "A Dangerous Place" by Mark Reisner for which I wrote a review on September 9,2004 .These two books complement each other. There is, however, a shortcoming in each book.Reisner's book has maps and many photographs,but lacks an index or any references.Ulin's book lacks maps,illustrations and photos,also no references,but does include an extensive index.
Finally,both books refrain from making any specific predictions,but after reading them,you can understand why.
Ulin does point us to web sites of Berkland (SYZYGZ0 )and Cloud Man.
These men who have fairly accurate recent records of good predictions. Cloud Man predicted the Hector Mine earthquake on the fault Lavic Lake,long considered to be dormant A system that,until 1999,had remained quiet for longer than human civilization existed on earth. It was predicted 2 months before it happened and posted on his web site. It was the forth largest Southern California temblor of the twentieth century,coming in at a magnitude of 7.0.

I may be a humorless literal scientist, but I expected more.

First, the some of the key facts are muddled. Accelerated Moment (not motion) Release, the final scientific milestone cited, quickly fell out of favor, rendering its description here out of date. Stress triggering is not so clearly described, and does not possess as much predictive power as is attributed. Co-seismic (p. 201) is a term for NOT beforehand, and the definitive co-seismic changes of the geysers were not precursors to earthquakes. The potentially precursory signals were NOT definitive. In fact, all the precursory phenomena cited were sketchy, which is difficult to ascertain from this book. There was appropriate skepticism for some would-be earthquake predictors, but others, most notably the Cloud Man, see their dubious claims of success overstated.

Equally frustrating, the vast scale of science and humanity brought on as grist for philosophizing made little sense to me. Some pondering was euphonious and harmless, other parts were irritating. For example, the potential role of water in faulting was repeatedly compared to the essence of life and roles of water everywhere. What does this mean?

The author frequently felt at risk riding on subways in earthquake country. My impression is tunnels are not so dangerous - it is only where tunnels surface that building safe subways is challenging. Perhaps some research into that would have been helpful.

I did enjoy the interviews with the scientists, and it is amusing to see our opinions taken so seriously.