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20220330 Speer The Great QuakeBy William Renner, Reference Librarian

Join Speer Memorial Library in Mission on Tuesday, April 5, for a discussion of the book The Great Quake, to take place in the library’s Community Room at 6:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend and discuss the book.

Good Friday, March 27, 1964, 5:36 p.m. Southern Alaska is struck by the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in North America—the second most powerful in world history. At 9.2 on the Richter scale, its violent shaking causes deaths and major damage in Anchorage, Valdez, and other towns. But the tsunamis that it generates produce even more death and destruction—and not just in Alaska, but also as far away as California. They even do damage in Hawaii and Japan.

Southern Alaska is an area that George Plafker knows quite well from his many summer hiking expeditions there. But flying above it, two days after the earthquake, assessing the aftermath as a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, he is shocked by what he sees. It is not only the structural damage, but the changes to the landscape itself, that draw his attention.

After many observations, both from the air and on the ground, Mr. Plafker shifts his career focus to the study of earthquakes. Years later, his work leads to the confirmation of the theory of plate tectonics, the idea that the earth’s crust consists of different sections, or plates, all moving in slow motion in relation to one another. This explains many geographic features of the earth, as well as earthquakes, and is a major scientific advance.

Written by Henry Fountain, and first published in 2017, The Great Quake is a tale of the fury of nature, the story of how an earthquake upended the lives of individuals and communities—and of how it left an indelible mark on science itself.

Some copies of the book available for check out to those who sign up for the book discussion, or you can stop by the Reference Desk, or call at 956-580-8754, and the library will try to obtain a copy for you via Interlibrary Loan. This title is also available in English as an e-audiobook at

For more information, or to sign up for the book discussion, please call the Reference Desk at 956-580-8754, or send an email to (please include your name and telephone number).

Speer Memorial Library is located at 12th and Kika De La Garza in Mission. The library is open (except for Holidays) Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. The Library's homepage can be accessed for information via the Internet by entering Stay up to date with the latest events going on at our neighborhood library by joining our FACEBOOK page at