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Liquefaction imperils Bay Area Bubble Economy

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The US Geological Survey (USGS) yesterday confirmed our worst fears - or some of your highest hopes - that the Bay Area Internet economy will be decimated by the next major San Andreas-induced quake.

Every few years the Survey plots the vulnerability of certain areas to earthquakes, and the results released yesterday are the most precise to date.

Alongside landslides, liquefaction is the most prominent danger to quake-vulnerable neighbourhoods. Several areas of San Francisco are built on infill, and the vibrations that result from a major quake force water from the sand to the surface: leaving buildings shakier than Amazon's P2E ratio. And many prominent of San Francisco's dot.coms find themselves going wibbly-wobbly too.

Most of the SOMA area will be dot.gone should a major quake strike, along with the Financial District, all of downtown, and the Marina area.

So should a quake strike, expect to received variable Quality of Service from the following: Sega, ZDNet [Did you expect anything else? - Ed], Petopia, WebVan, Macromedia and a host of smaller dot.coms and service providers whose natural demise will be accelerated by the Big One. Alas, say goodbye too, to Brian Behlendorf's Collab.net, and in meejah-land Computergram, CMP, Wired and SF Weekly (although we're saying our prayers for Dog Bites' diva Laurel Wellman right now).

Oh, and us and CNet too. We're in big trouble: for if liquefaction doesn't get us both, landslides from Telegraph Hill probably will. Waltzing out of the apocalypse intact, we're glad to see, will be Microsoft's Bay Area Research Centre (home-from-home to Jim Gray of System*R and Tandem fame).

And weirdly too, IDG Media is tipped to escape almost intact if our geography is correct. Which should leave slumberers in the building's famous "sleeping room" (where journalists can doze off a heavy working lunch) snoozing merrily on.

The survey predicts that there's a "70 per cent probability of at least one magnitude 6.7 or greater quake, capable of causing widespread damage, striking the San Francisco Bay region before 2030".

For San Francisco's British expats, the Mad Dog In The Fog and the Edinburgh Castle appear to be safe. We'll see you in there. ®

Related Link

The Earthquake Hazards Program at the wonderful USGS website

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