The 18 April 1906 San Francisco earthquake killed nearly 3000 people and left 225,000 residents homeless. Three days after the earthquake, an eight-person Earthquake Investigation Commission composed of 25 geologists, seismologists, geodesists, biologists and engineers, as well as some 300 others started work under the supervision of Andrew Lawson to collect and document physical phenomena related to the quake . On 31 May 1906, the commission published a preliminary 17-page report titled "The Report of the State Earthquake Investigation Commission". The report included the bulk of the geological and morphological descriptions of the faulting, detailed reports on shaking intensity, as well as an impressive atlas of 40 oversized maps and folios. Nearly 100 years after its publication, the Commission Report remains a model for post-earthquake investigations. Because the diverse data sets were so complete and carefully documented, researchers continue to apply modern analysis techniques to learn from the 1906 earthquake. While the earthquake marked a seminal event in the history of California, it served as impetus for the birth of modern earthquake science in the United States.
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The 1906 earthquake and a century of progress in understanding earthquakes and their hazards