I live within the Ring of Fire, less than five miles from the San Andreas Fault. The Ring of Fire is a 40,000 kilometer horseshoe partly encircling the Pacific Basin. Its continuous oceanic trenches and volcanic arcs create 90% of the world's earthquakes. With four significant earthquakes, in Haiti, Chile, Japan, and Taiwan, since the beginning of the year, there is talk whether the Ring of Fire is hyper-agitated right now.
Our half-hearted discussions about updating our earthquake preparedness kits resurfaced these past few weeks, but I don't know anyone who is actually doing it. It may surprise those who live on firmer ground how matter-of-fact most of us in this region are about this Sword of Damocles looming over our heads. We trade in this brewing threat for our perfect Mediterranean climate, abundant natural wonders, and wonderful fresh food. We bask in all this glory as the Pacific Plate slides beneath the North American Plate under our feet.
Don't get me wrong, we aren't completely complacent. Our building codes aim to be vigilant about "The Next Big One". All brick buildings must be reinforced, our Bay Bridge is being rebuilt, and many of our favorite buildings were condemned to the wrecking ball after the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989.
One of the buildings suffering devastating damage in the 1989 earthquake was the De Young Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. During the construction of the new building, the museum approached British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy to create an installation for the entry courtyard. Goldsworthy already completed the earthquake-related sculpture, Stone River, at nearby Stanford University. Formerly called "Faultline", now called "Drawn Stone", Goldsworthy drew inspiration from the seismic movement that ultimately brought the De Young's original 1895 building down.Visitors can now follow a tiny fissure in the stone pavers, beginning just outside the building, into the courtyard, where it builds momentum and rises in amplitude bisecting large cuboid boulders.
Appleton Greenmoore sandstone pavers
Many visitors pass without noticing the faultlines snaking through the courtyard. Its understated appearance belies the force required to form this work.
Goldsworthy painstakingly created this installation over the period of three months. Click here to view a great video of Goldsworthy in action.
While you do that, I think I'll review our earthquake-preparedness kit while Johnny Cash sings of a different "Ring of Fire" altogether:
Note: Many earthquake victims around the world still need aide. See the badge on my side bar to learn of one way to help.
Another note: Please forgive the blue-green cast of the last photo; I was shooting through the second floor window.