Don't Start Packing Yet!

Don't Start Packing Yet!

Oracles and prophets of doom routinely predict that a major earthquake in the western United States will cause California to slide into the sea. The highlands of Colorado will then become the new shoreline overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

In 1969 the soothsayers of California made a serious and most convincing prediction of that nature that caused much unrest among the gullible. In fact a number of people packed up and hastily moved to Colorado. The predication was that in April of that year a devastating earthquake would occur; California, in its death throes, would slip into the ocean.

The notion of California sliding into the sea is really quite absurd, if only because of the unshakable fact that the ocean off California is less than two miles deep, while California is over twenty miles thick. Really, it just wouldn't fit.

No earthquake shook the land that April anyway, but the doomsday prophets came up with explanations that seemed quite believable to those gullible enough to have listened to the seers in the first place. Those easily deceived are often satisfied with "The spirit changed its mind," or "The calculations have been adjusted; it will happen next year" or decade or century. As a consolation prize for those who still insist that California will eventually be broken off into the Pacific, geologists do predict that the surface of the land now known as California could erode away — in about fifty million years.

From the book: 
Our Fascinating Earth