Earthshaking Science: What We Know (and Don’t Know) about Earthquakes

Earthshaking Science: What We Know (and Don’t Know) about Earthquakes

This is the first book to really make sense of the dizzying array of information that has emerged in recent decades about earthquakes. Susan Hough, a research seismologist in one of North America’s most active earthquake zones and an expert at communicating this complex science to the public, separates fact from fiction. She fills in many of the blanks that remained after plate tectonics theory, in the 1960s, first gave us a rough idea of just what earthquakes are about. How do earthquakes start

Rating: (out of 8 reviews)

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5 Responses to “Earthshaking Science: What We Know (and Don’t Know) about Earthquakes”

  • Anonymous says:

    Review by for Earthshaking Science: What We Know (and Don’t Know) about Earthquakes
    Dr. Hough’s new book is very readable in a journalistic style, like a set of Scientific American articles, or the NY Times Sunday magazine. There is little jargon and almost no equations to slow down the reader. That makes it suitable for the general public or high school to early college textbook. But it is a little lightweight to be an advanced seismology textbook or reference work.The first several chapters of the book explain plate tectonics and basic seismology. Then there are some very good descriptions of the state of earthquake prediction and of how the national seismic hazard maps were compiled. These are probably the best current descriptions of these topics in the general science literature and a reason to read this this book. This book also brings seismology into the 21st century, incorporating lessons from large 1990s US quakes and current seismic research.In some respects the material resembles another journalistic seismology book “The Earth in Turmoil” by her across-the-street colleagues Dr. Sieh (with LeVay). Hough’s book progresses in topical order, while Sieh’s visits ten geologically active areas in North America. Hough’s is slanted more on seismology and the hazards mitigation efforts of the US Geological Survey. Sieh’s is slanted more geology and his specialty of understanding pre-historic quakes.

  • Bruce Crocker says:

    Review by Bruce Crocker for Earthshaking Science: What We Know (and Don’t Know) about Earthquakes
    I live in Whittier, California and get to fill out “Did you feel it?” reports on the USGS web site several times a year. As a resident of the earthquake laboratory we call southern California, it’s obvious that I should keep abreast of the latest news from the seismology labs. But what about folks in New York, NY? Or Memphis, TN? Or Charleston, SC? Earthquakes don’t happen in the eastern United States…do they? Actually, not only do they happen in the eastern US, but a large earthquake in the eastern US today would probably make Loma Prieta or Northridge look like practice runs. Look around your neighborhood and the area where you work. Do you see any unreinforced brick buildings? If I have your attention and you’re curious about the latest information about earthquakes, I highly recommend Susan Hough’s Earthshaking Science.Earthshaking Science is a tour to the edge of the scarp of what we do know [and what we’d like to know] about earthquakes. It is NOT a comprehensive guide to earthquakes and plate tectonics. If you’re looking for the basic textbook version, try Earthquakes by Bruce Bolt or Living With Earthquakes In California by Robert Yeats. Hough takes off from the basic textbook knowledge of earthquakes and takes the reader to the edges of seismology. She covers everything from studies of ground response to the fledgling science of paleoseismology. She apologizes for a California focus, but she does quite a bit on earthquake dangers in other parts of the United States. I would recommend that potential readers have a basic background in science. If you dream of short term earthquake prediction, this book isn’t the good news you’ve been looking for.Whether you’ve read every book on earthquakes or you’re a scientifically literate person who has little experience with seismology, I highly recommend Earthquaking Science by Susan Hough.

  • Joe Zika says:

    Review by Joe Zika for Earthshaking Science: What We Know (and Don’t Know) about Earthquakes
    Earthshaking Science: What We Know (and Don’t Know) about Earthquakes written by Susan Elizabeth Hough os a book that tackles the issues at the forefront of modern seismology.Although earthquarkes have been around for eons, the science of measuring the ground motion has been really around for a few decades. Most of the information about earthquakes has been excellerated by the improvements in earthquake recording capability. This book has a straight forward approach in describing what happens durning and the causal effects of what is entailed by a tectonic event.This book on seismology addresses earthquake prediction, seismic hazard assessment along with ground motion, magnitude and how earthquakes start. I found this book to be very readable and understandable. Since the science of seismology is so new, not much information is available outside the technical journals, but now in this book the layperson can understand the dynamics of this science.The book has only seven chapters, but each of them when finished will impart a knowledge of seismology to the reader that you could only piecemeal before. If you want to understand why earthquakes happen where they do, then this is your book.This book is jargon-free and the author communicates very well to the reader about a complex science in terms that are easily understood. I recommend reading this book if you want to know why the earth shakes, raddles and rolls.

  • B. Miller says:

    Review by B. Miller for Earthshaking Science: What We Know (and Don’t Know) about Earthquakes
    Absolutely a marvelous book. Ms. Hough has written a book that deals well with a very complex subject in a way a non-expert can readily fathom. A wonderful package – types of faults, their locations, their history, the key people in the development of the scientific advances, the hazard for particular faults and fault types, the kinds of risks those hazards raise (given the population and building densities near the faults). This is one of those A+ science books for the general pubic with an interest in science. I only come across about one or two every five years. toxon 8/18/2006

  • Midwest Book Review says:

    Review by Midwest Book Review for Earthshaking Science: What We Know (and Don’t Know) about Earthquakes
    The sum of knowledge and mysteries surrounding earthquakes are provided in Susan Hough’s Earthshaking Science, a scholarly but highly accessible survey of the geology and geologic exploration in the science of seismology. Susan Hough is a research seismologist in one of North America’s most active earthquake zones: her title succeeds in aptly communicating the science of earthquake research to a lay audience, injecting a healthy dose of lively history for those with no prior background in the subject.

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