Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake

Kathryn Miles. Dutton, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-0-52595-518-4
Science journalist Miles (Superstorm) details a potential new source of anxiety for Americans: seismicity. She cites the unpredictable nature of earthquakes and the fact that there are over 2,100 known faults on the U.S. geological map. Sketching grim scenarios of potential disaster, Miles suggests that the American infrastructure is wholly unprepared to withstand the next rupture. She begins with the Hebgen Lake, Mont., quake of 1959, which caused $11 million in damages ($70 million today), to illustrate the suddenness of tremors and their devastating ripple effects. Miles then takes readers on a cross-country tour of seismic hot spots. She meets with colorful engineers and geologists to peer below the Earth’s surface and gauge the pressure being imposed on it internally as well as externally by human constructions such as the Hoover Dam, Mississippi River levees, and the Steinway Tunnel (which connects Manhattan and Queens). Miles also confronts hydraulic fracturing in Oklahoma, where increasingly powerful earthquakes have spread over a larger territory, making it the most seismically active of the Lower 48 states. Yet despite myriad technological advances, predicting the next earthquake remains nearly impossible. Mixing geological primer with apocalyptic warning, Miles makes clear “how fragile—and volatile—the ground beneath our feet really is.” Agent: Wendy Strothman, Strothman Agency. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/26/2017
Release date: 07/11/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-0-698-41146-3
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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