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Eventhough Pittsburgh is not known for its earthquakes, one cannot completely rule them out for our area. Take the examples of New Madrid, Missouri in 1811 and Charleston, South Carolina in 1886.

Selected Books

Côté, Richard N.
City of Heroes: The Great Charleston Earthquake Of 1886
F279.C457 C68 2007x
At 9:51 PM on August 31, 1886, the most powerful earthquake ever to strike the East Coast rolled through South Carolina and devastated Charleston, killing over 150 people and damaging or destroying over 90% of the historic city's masonry buildings within sixty seconds. It is estimated to have been Magnitude 7.3 on the Richter scale.
Fradkin, Philip L.
The Great Earthquake and Firestorms of 1906 - How San Francisco Nearly Destroyed Itself
F869.S357 F735 2005
Fradkin holds that it was the people of San Francisco and not the forces of nature who were responsible for the extent of the destruction and death. The city leaders had not learned anything from the quakes in 1903, 1904, and 1905 and they are not well prepared today.
Hammer, Joshua
Yokohama Burning: The Deadly 1923 Earthquake and Fire That Helped Forge the Path to World War II
DS888.H245 2006
Yokohama Burning is the story of one of the worst natural disasters of the twentieth century: the earthquakes, fires, and tsunamis of September 1923 that destroyed Yokohama and most of Tokyo and killed 140,000 people. Newsweek correspondent Hammer places the tumultuous events in the context of history and claims that they drove Japan into the hands of radical militarists with imperial ambitions.
Hough, Susan Elizabeth
Richter's Scale: Measure of an Earthquake, Measure of a Man
QE22.R475 H68 2007
This biography of Charles Richter (1900-1985), the inventor of the Richter scale that measures the intensity of earthquakes, is written by a seismologist and chronicles the troubled life, scientific work, and poetry of a man many considered peculiar.
Krauss, Erich
Wave of Destruction: The Stories of Four Families and History's Deadliest Tsunami
GC222.I45 K73 2006
Krauss recounts the story of four impoverished families in a Thai village when it is devastated by the tsunami of December 26, 2004, following the Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake.
Shrady, Nicholas
The Last Day: Wrath, Ruin, and Reason in the Great Lisbon Earthquake Of 1755
DP762.S57 2008
The Last Day is a riveting history of how the cataclysmic Lisbon earthquake, in which 90% of the city was destroyed, shook the religious and intellectual foundations of Enlightenment Europe.
Smith, Dennis
San Francisco is Burning: The Untold Story of the 1906 Earthquake and Fires
TH9449.S26 S65 2005
Smith, a seasoned firefighter, reveals many unknown details about the event, from the city's great vulnerability to fire due to its corrupt and hasty building practices, to the widespread racism the quake unleashed, and the atrocities committed by national guardsmen.
Stein, Seth
Disaster Deferred: How New Science Is Changing our View of Earthquake Hazards in the Midwest
QE538.8.S74 2010
Seth Stein, Professor of Geological Sciences at Northwestern University, feels that the risks of a repeat of the 1811 New Madrid earthquake have been exaggerated. Read more in Nature's Seth Stein: The quake killer.
Stewart, David and Ray Knox
The Earthquake America Forgot: Two Thousand Temblors in Five Months and It will Happen Again
q QE535.2.U6 S7427 1995
Starting December 16, 1811, with an 8.6 magnitude earthquake, the greatest release of seismic energy in American History occurred with over 2000 earthquakes in five months. Collectively called "The New Madrid [Missouri] Earthquake," the largest was an 8.8 on February 7, 1812, that made the Mississippi River run backwards and swallowed five whole towns.
Winchester, Simon
A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906
F869.S357 W56 2005
Winchester's recounting of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake is dense with facts and full of both geological history and personal anecdotes.
Zeilinga de Boer, Jelle and Donald Theodore Sanders
Earthquakes in Human History - The Far-Reaching Effects of Seismic Disruptions
QE521.Z45 2005
Beginning with the great Lisbon Quake of 1755, Zeilinga and Sanders go on to examine other earthquakes and their aftermaths: those mentioned in the Bible, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Japan's Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, and the Peruvian earthquake in 1970.


The Great San Francisco Earthquake
(DVD) F869.S34 G74 2006x
On April 19, 1906, San Francisco would experience an earthquake that measured 8.3 on the Richter scale. This catastrophe was one of the worst suffered by a North American city in the twentieth century. Included are rare, newly restored movie footage from the period and personal accounts of eyewitnesses. Visit the American Experience companion website.
San Francisco's Great Quake
(DVD) F869.S357 S37 2006x
This National Geographic video documents the battle between man and nature told by the stories of people who lived through it.

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Last updated November 15, 2011