why were there so few deaths during the 1857 fort tejon earthquake

The Fort Tejon earthquake occurred at about 8:20 AM (Pacific time) on January 9, 1857. The Owens Valley Earthquake and the great San Francisco event of 1906 make up, with Fort Tejon, California’s three biggest historical earthquakes. Great Fort Tejon Earthquake, 1857 Damaged Mission Santa Cruz church, not long after the 1857 earthquake, about 229 miles northwest of Fort Tejon. The Fort Tejon earthquake of 1857 was one of the greatest earthquakes ever recorded in the U.S., and left an amazing surface rupture scar over 350 kilometers in length along the San Andreas fault. Contributed by Mrs. Joseph Bishop, 1874.

Tejon Earthquake of 1857 The 7.9 magnitude Tejon Earthquake (with an intensity of perhaps 8.25), which struck about 8:20 am on the morning of Jan. 9, 1857 is considered by many to be the largest historic earthquake that California has witnessed, vying for that title with the better known San Francisco quake of 1906. The 1857 Ft. Tejon Earthquake: In Brief Many people think that the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was the largest earthquake to strike California in historical times, but that distinction actually belongs to the shaker that rocked southern and central California on January 9, 1857, uprooting trees in the San Bernardino Mountains and causing the Kern River to flow backwards for a time.

It ruptured the San Andreas Fault for a length of about 350 kilometers (220 mi), between Parkfield and San Bernardino.

I finally started reading California Disasters and came across a chapter on the 1857 Earthquake of Fort Tejon, one of the largest quakes in California history, a 7.9. The Fort Tejon earthquake occurred at about 8:20 am (Pacific time) on January 9, 1857 in central and Southern California with an estimated moment magnitude of 7.9.

The 1906 San Francisco guake was 7.8 and that in Owens Valley was 7.4.

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