California Will Fall into the Sea can be found in Magazine Entry




Is America destined to be the scene of a second Atlantis?

AS ANYBODY who has studied geology knows— certainly those who have mapped out the future movements of the North American continent—a few thousand years more will see that section of the Pacific Coast west of the Rockies vanish from the map. It is taken for granted that California will join those other more ancient parts of the world's surface which have been swallowed up by the sea. This has always been regarded as inevitable, though for a long time no one saw any reason to suppose that this change would be in our time. But now there have been developments in the very recent past and in the present that indicate a drastic change—for the worst.

It is now not only possible, but quite probable, that the sinking of California into the sea has been immensely advanced, that the first signs of it are beginning today, and that it may culminate in full disaster not thousands of years from now, but in the immediate future, next year, this year, even tomorrow. There are good sound reasons for this belief.

The recent series of earthquakes which have disturbed the rock base which underlies the state of California have aroused very little concern anywhere in the world—not even in California. The residents of the western coastal area of the United States have become so used to the frequent tremors that rattle the dishes in their cupboards and make hairline cracks in the stucco walls of their buildings that even a real, heaving roll of the supposedly solid earth beneath them gets only slight notice.

Californians have gotten their sealegs on dry land, and, unless there is vast destruction and great loss of life, an earthquake in that part of the country deserves np more than passing mention. The ears of the natives have long since become deaf to the constantly recurring cry of "Wolf!"

Historically speaking, this mental attitude is not in the least unusual. A little less than nineteen hundred years ago, in the popular Roman resort town of Pompeii, the local citizens felt the same way. There were occasional tremors and shakings of the earth, but what of that? Nothing really serious had ever come of the rumbling threats. Pompeii had stood on the fertile slopes of Mount Vesuvius for more than four hundred years; there was no reason to suppose that it would not stand for four hundred more.

Pompeii, Herculinium, and other nearby towns had plenty of warning. In A.D. 63, after a series of minor seismic vibrations, a major earthquake struck, destroying most of the public buildings, and so badly damaging the remaining structures that they had to be rebuilt. And rebuild they did. Ignoring the warning, the people of Pompeii were still working on the reconstruction of the town when, sixteen years later, in A.D. 79, Mount Vesu...

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