Earthquake Time Bombs

Caitlin Dempsey


How important is it for the public to understand and take action against the threat of earthquakes to their cities?  Bob Yeats, a retired emeritus professor of geology at Oregon State University has made it his mission to study earthquake time bombs around the world, and says that the probability of an earthquake on a fault or in a region is not enough incentive for government leaders to strengthen major cities against earthquakes.

In his new book, Earthquake Time Bombs, Yeats discusses how the next damaging earthquake will help drive change and what role the public needs to take in being proactive about protecting their cities.  Yeats notes that society tends to regard the study of earthquakes as academic research rather than a means to strengthen communities, and he reveals earthquake hotspots in the U.S. and around the world and the communities at risk, and how we can mitigate the effects of future disasters.

While predicting earthquakes has been a holy grail among geologists, Yeats has been eerily prescient with his understanding of vulnerable areas.  In a 2010 interview with Scientific American  given a week before the Haiti earthquake, Yeats explained that he was more concerned over a potentially devastating earthquake hitting Port au Prince in that country than on the west coast of the United States.

In his new book, Earthquake Time Bombs, Yeats discusses the world’s most dangerous earthquake hotspots, the communities at risk, and how the public can mitigate the effects of future disasters. Earthquake time bombs commonly are urban areas experiencing large, rapidly growth next to a tectonic plate boundary with a past history of earthquakes.  Yeats has identified these Earthquake Time Bombs”: Kabul, Afghanistan / Tehran, Iran / Damascus & Aleppo, both Syria / Beirut, Lebanon / Jerusalem, Israel /Istanbul, Turkey / Caracas, Venezuela / Guantánamo, Cuba / Dhaka, Bangladesh / Chandigarh, India /Islamabad‐Rawalpindi, Pakistan / Nairobi, Kenya / Yangon, Mandalay & Naypyidaw, all Burma (Myanmar) /Los Angeles & San Francisco & Seattle, United States / Tokyo, Japan / Athens, Greece / Christchurch, New Zealand / L’Aquila, Italy.

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Yeats’ book, Earthquake Time Bombs is published by Cambridge University Press. 361 pages. The book contains 61 black & white illustrations. [ISBN: 9781107085244].


About the Author
Robert Yeats is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Geological Society of America. He is a senior consultant and partner in Earth Consultants International, an international firm focusing on earthquake hazards, and also an Emeritus Professor at Oregon State University, where an endowed professorship has been named in his honor. He has decades of experience in earthquake geology worldwide, including acting as chair of an active fault working group of the International Lithosphere Program for several years and writing four previous books: Geology of Earthquakes (with Kerry Sieh and Clarence R. Allen), Living with Earthquakes in California, Living with Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest, and Active Faults of the World.

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.