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A Scientist Calls Bullshit on Newsweek's "Fearmongering" Earthquake Story

A geophysicist attacks the theory that Japan's latest quake spells doom for California.


Writing for Newsweek in the days after Japan's recent devastating earthquake, journalist and geologist Simon Winchester proclaimed, "The tsunami that struck Japan was the third in a series of events that now put California at risk." According to Winchester, Japan's quake and the two other major earthquakes that preceded it—in Christchurch, New Zealand, in February 2011 and Chile in February 2010—have set America, specifically San Francisco, up for an earthquake of epic proportions. If Winchester is to be believed, the San Andreas Fault, which underpins the Bay Area, is strained to a "barely tolerable level," and is set to rock soon.

Naturally, people were terrified at this news, especially San Franciscans. But according to a new article in Scientific American written by a scientist based near San Francisco, there's actually less cause for concern than Winchester is letting on.

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Map: See Japan Get Battered By 572 Earthquakes in Eight Days

Watch this stunning sequence of the hundreds of aftershocks to the massive 9.0 earthquake that has sent Japan reeling.

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More Earthquakes to Come in Japan

The huge 9.0 earthquake that hit Japan was actually an aftershock—and is likely to be followed by more large aftershocks in the coming weeks.

Nature reports that the huge 9.0 earthquake that hit Japan at 2.46 p.m. on Friday (local time) will be followed by "a number of major aftershocks in the next weeks"—and, surprisingly, that the March 11 quake was itself an aftershock of a 7.2 quake that also took place below the Pacific sea floor near the northern Miyagi Prefecture on March 9.

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