December 11, 1998
Dear C. Ryan:
Hello, my name is Erica Ryan and I am a 9th grader who goes to school at Sachem South in New York and I'm taking an Earth Science course. I am writing you to find out why someone would live in San Francisco when the San Andreas fault runs right through there. Your address is in the phone book and that's how you were selected (also we chose people with the same last names as ourselves).
In Earth Science, we are learning about earthquakes. We have learned that the outer layer of our planet is moving around on plates. The study of the formation of these plates is called plate tectonics. While the plates are moving, three things are happening--divergent boundaries, convergent boundaries, and transform faults. The San Andreas fault is a transform fault. A transform fault is when two plates are sliding past each other such as the Pacific plate and North American Plate. A plate is a piece of the earth that is broken.
As the plates try and push past each other, friction is going to build up. Eventually, the earth will not be able to take any more stress and the rock will jump forward. This will cause a huge earthquake that will destroy San Francisco.
I'm sure this is not the first time you have heard this. However, by living in San Francisco, you are putting your life in great danger. What my class and I would like to know is why an educated person would live in San Francisco and put their own life in such danger? I would appreciate it if you could please write back as soon as possible.
Thank you for your cooperation.