Seismic selfies: Massive earthquake surface rupture becomes tourist attraction


Christian Flores had traveled more than 200 miles, from San Diego to the Mojave Desert, to visit the latest Southern California tourist attraction.

There it was, on the hot asphalt of Highway 178 between Ridgecrest and Trona: a gnarly, surprisingly wide scar, courtesy of one very large earthquake. And just a few miles down the road lay another one — caused by a second, even larger and more terrifying quake.

Flores couldn’t wait to upload what he saw on his YouTube channel.

Since the Fourth of July, tourists, geologists and students have converged on the once-desolate spot from far and wide, to see the ruptures on Highway 178 caused by last week’s magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes. The Grand Canyon this is not — but the cracks were sizable enough to make visitors gape.


Trucks, minivans and sedans slowed down to park on the gravel lining the side of the highway. Families with young children hopped out. Researchers with GPS devices set up their machinery. Others ventured into the brown shrubbery as they followed the surface ruptures into hilly terrain.

They held cameras and shot selfies in the middle of the road.

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