Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt this week challenges us to find a word that starts with “liqu” or has “liqu” in it and to base our post on that word.
The word I’m using for this prompt is “liquefaction.” You may not be familiar with the word “liquefaction” if you don’t live in an area that is prone to earthquakes. I know that when my wife and I first moved to San Francisco about a decade ago, neither of us had even heard of that word.
The real estate broker that we were working with advised us to avoid looking at houses or condos built in “liquefaction zones.” I misunderstood what he said and asked him a really dumb question. “Why,” I asked, “should we stay away from juice bars?” I thought he had said “liquification zones,” and related it to sticking fruits or veggies into a juicer to liquify them.
I soon learned that liquefaction is “the process by which saturated, unconsolidated soil or sand is converted into a suspension during an earthquake.” The effect on structures and buildings in liquefaction zones can be devastating, and it is a major contributor to urban seismic risk.
I also learned that there are many neighborhoods in San Francisco that are designated as liquefaction zones. If you own a place in such zones, you face the prospect of major damage, tilting, and even collapse in the event of a significant earthquake.
Yikes! I knew about flood zones and fire zones and even landslide zones. I had briefly lived in what is known as “tornado alley,” as well as in areas frequently hit by hurricanes. But liquefaction zones were new to me.
Anyway, my wife and I ended up buying a place in a section of the city that is not considered to be built in a high-risk liquefaction zone. Still, in the event of a significant earthquake in San Francisco, I’m pretty sure we’re going to be bending over and kissing our asses goodbye.