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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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