The Corner

The one and only.

A Request of Such Charm...


…and sweet reason, that I cannot but comply.

Mr. Robinson…

I’m a aging geophysicist and an avid, paying reader of NRO (I subscribed to NR print as a teenager and undergraduate in the mid-Sixties). I’m also a specialist in Plate Tectonics (e.g., Geokinematics: Prelude to Geodynamics).

A few months ago I gently admonished your colleague, Mr. Campaign Spot, about the usage of the phrase “fault line” in one of his posts….

Now I wish to take you to task (equally gently) regarding “Where the tectonic plates of entertainment and high tech slam into each other.”

Tectonic plates do not “slam into each other”. They move very, very slowly. And, in Southern California, average movement across the San Andreas Fault is only about three centimeters (slightly more than one inch) per year. And, the blocks are moving parallel to one another across the fault. Movement across the fault is not accommodated continuously; in effect the fault blocks on either side “stick” to one another until the rock strength fails – thus, an earthquake.

In the vicinity of Hollywood, there are more faults that involve convergence of small crustal blocks – producing the San Fernando Earthquake of 1971, for example. And, the average convergence rate there is on the order of a centimeter per year, or less. (My current Colorado address may mislead; I went to grad school at USC and studied Los Angeles Basin geology.)

I very much like what you write…. I also appreciate Rob Long’s satirical view.

All I am asking is for appropriate application of tectonic metaphors.