I used to work on these maps.  But now im too confused.
   Associated Press 
   Sunday April 4 12:02 PM ET
California Releases Confusing Maps

   By DEBORAH HASTINGS Associated Press Writer 
   LOS ANGELES (AP) - In a land of natural disasters, the state released
   a series of confusing seismic maps showing Beverly Hills and other
   Southern California neighborhoods that may - or may not - suffer
   landslides and building collapses during a major earthquake.
   Using words such as ``liquefaction'' and ``soil strength,'' geologists
   and seismologists identified 24 at-risk ``quadrangles,'' talking
   points that ended up raising more questions than they answered.
   ``Does this mean California is going to fall into the ocean?'' asked
   one befuddled reporter.
   In one of the few declarative sentences uttered during an hourlong
   press conference, a seismic expert answered, ``Absolutely not.''
   For the second year in a row, California's Department of Conservation
   unveiled color-coded ``seismic hazard zone maps'' mandated by the
   governor after San Francisco's deadly 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta quake
   in 1989.
   They are designed to identify landslide sites and water-logged ground
   areas in danger of destructive movement during a quake with a
   magnitude of 5 or greater. Seismologists estimate the Los Angeles
   basin has about a 10 percent chance of getting such a shake within the
   next 50 years.
   Most of the landslide zones were no-brainers - the mushy hillsides of
   Malibu, which slip with great regularity, earthquake or no - the
   Hollywood Hills and the coastal Santa Monica Mountains.
   Liquefaction areas - where thousands of years of river sediments and
   the presence of sandy soil makes land shifts more likely - run roughly
   along the Los Angeles River in downtown, in pricey neighborhoods
   including West Hollywood and Sherman Oaks, and in areas along the
   Pacific Ocean like Malibu, Venice and Playa del Rey.
   The state encourages municipalities to use its maps to strengthen
   building codes for new developments, mostly in the form of soil
   testing and report writing. But exactly how that process works and the
   effect it might have wasn't explained in plain English, either.
   For homeowners, it constitutes one more line to check on the Natural
   Hazard Disclosure Statement required of California property sellers.
   Also on the list: flood, fire and earthquake zones.
   In a state known for calamity, there exists a certain fatalism.
   Property values have not suffered since the state began releasing
   maps, according to a spokesman for the California Association of
   Try as he might, state geologist Jim Davis, entrenched in years of
   scientific thinking, was unable to provide unambiguous answers to
   questions about what the maps really meant.
   ``What is it you want us to tell viewers tonight?'' asked an
   exasperated journalist at the March 25 briefing.
   ``These green areas are the equivalent of a medical prescription that
   says there are symptoms here that are worthy of additional testing,''
   Davis said.
   Translation: If you live in one of 83 cities mapped in Los Angeles and
   Orange counties, you might want to check the building codes in effect
   when your house was built, and consider retrofitting measures such as
   reinforcing your home's foundation.
   However, in a state virtually inured to fire, floods and shaking, the
   maps made little difference to some right in the middle of the most
   expensive hazard zones.
   Hellen Yellin has lived on South Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills for 26
   years. Her home survived the 6.7-magnitude Northridge quake in 1994
   just fine, she said.
   ``I'm not really worried about it. We've retrofitted our house.''
   Asked what she would do if the ground opened under her house during a
   major quake, Yellin laughed. ``I don't know. Wear a life vest?''
   Shirley Bailey, who lives a few blocks away, couldn't even imagine the
   earth sinking and slipping in her neighborhood. ``That has never
   happened here, and I've been here 35 years,'' she said.
   ``So every once in a blue moon, we have an earthquake,'' Bailey said.
   ``It certainly doesn't deter people from coming here.''
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