The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Fall 2000, Volume 46, Number 4
Gregg Hennessey, Editor
Raymond G. Starr, Book Review Editor
A Land in Motion: California’s San Andreas Fault.
By Michael Collier. San Francisco: Golden Gate National Parks Association, with the University of California Press and the United States Geological Survey, 1999. Photographs, illustrations, maps, index. Ix + 118 pages. $30.00 Softcover.
Why would the readers of the Journal of San Diego History be interested in book which is not a history and does not even mention San Diego? In this case, there are lots of reasons to be interested in this beautiful and informative book. It is about the San Andreas Fault, which does not run through San Diego County, but nonetheless is a dominant factor in the geology of the area. And although the title might not indicate it, much of the information used to describe and interpret the San Andreas Fault is, in fact, historical. The San Andreas earthquake fault is the chief California manifestation of the shifting of continental plates against each other — the process which has produced many of our mountains and generally configured the landscape of California. San Diego’s smaller earthquake faults are but a tiny part of the bigger story of local tectonic plates sliding against each other. Thus to understand San Diego geology and its impact on San Diego’s history, one has to understand the larger story of Pacific Rim plate tectonics. A Land in Motion, through words and excellent color illustrations, provides an excellent exposition of the topic, one which is scientifically sound, but designed for and accessible to the general reader. It would be an excellent companion piece to Patrick Abbott’s Rise and Fall of San Diego: 150 Years of History Recorded in Sedimentary Rocks (1999). Beyond that, the book is beautiful to look at and interesting to read as it describes the Fault, its impact on California, and stories of some of the people who study it.