December 1, 1927
A couple decades ago there was the great quaking of earth up in San Francisco—that couldn’t happen down here? Could it? Could it?!
World Authority Doctor Robert T. Hill, geologist of International Repute, has spent years investigating the seismicity of Southern California, and today made public his findings. The business and financial leaders of Los Angeles thronged to the Alexandria Hotel, as guests of Eli P. Clark, director of the Building Owners’ and Managers’ Association, and sat in rapt attention and feverish anticipation of what Hill, Eminent Authority, had to say after his exhaustive study.
Of Southern California, Hill declared: “no other section in the United States enjoys greater freedom from major earthquake perils.”
Whew indeed! It seems that the menace of an earthquake disaster is greatly exaggerated, and we’ve erroneous data to thank for that (usually from the prophesies of Stanford’s Dr. Bailey Willis, who, Hill feels, is full of hooey)—and which is responsible for the marked rise in earthquake insurance rates. Dr. Hill was corroborated in his assertions and supported with geological data by one Ralph Arnold, also a geologist of wide reputation, who went on to say that we have no need whatsoever for earthquake coverage at all in these parts.
Hill spoke long and hard about how the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey conclusively proved that Willis’ predictions regarding the movement of Gaviota Peak vis-à-vis the San Andreas rift are all wrong: so there. Moreover, Southern California belongs to the earth structure of Northern Mexico, and, as wholly dissimilar from Northern California geologically, whatever release of earth strain from Santa Barbara upwards has nothing to do with this part of the world. And so forth.
And who is this Robert T. Hill? Well, his paper on the Comanche Cretaceous is the foundation of our geological knowledge of the Southwest, and his studies of the Panama Isthmus were responsible for the location of the Panama Canal. And he was certainly on target with the whole “free from major peril” thing.