The Nimitz Freeway, in Oakland, California, experienced catastrophic damage during the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Entire sections of the upper deck of the freeway collapsed directly on the lower deck, instantly crushing more than two dozen cars and their occupants.
Photograph by Joe Lewis, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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    On October 17, 1989, the central coast of California was jolted by the Loma Prieta earthquake. The quake’s epicenter was near Loma Prieta Peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The magnitude 6.9 quake was the most powerful the state had experienced since 1980. 
    The Loma Prieta earthquake was triggered by the mighty San Andreas Fault, where the North American tectonic plate strikes northward while the massive Pacific plate slips southward. During the quake, the epicenter slipped up to 2.3 meters.
    The Loma Prieta earthquake caused 63 deaths, 3,757 injuries, and about $6 billion in damage. Many casualties occurred as parts of several transportation routes, including the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and a busy freeway, collapsed. 
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    athlete Noun

    person who participates or competes in sporting events.

    bay Noun

    body of water partially surrounded by land, usually with a wide mouth to a larger body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: bay
    bridge Noun

    structure connecting areas otherwise difficult to travel.

    coast Noun

    edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: coast
    collapse Verb

    to fall apart completely.

    damage Noun

    harm that reduces usefulness or value.

    deck Noun

    top surface or "floor" of a ship or other open structure, such as a highway or bridge.

    delay Verb

    to put off until a later time.

    earthquake Noun

    the sudden shaking of Earth's crust caused by the release of energy along fault lines or from volcanic activity.

    epicenter Noun

    point on the Earth's surface directly above the true center of an earthquake.

    evacuate Verb

    to leave or remove from a dangerous place.

    fault Noun

    a crack in the Earth's crust where there has been movement.

    freeway Noun

    large public road for which there is no fee, or toll, required.

    frighten Verb

    to scare.

    highway Noun

    large public road.

    journalist Noun

    person who reports and distributes news.

    massive Adjective

    very large or heavy.

    route Noun

    path or way.

    span Verb

    to extend over or across something.

    stadium Noun

    large structure, often used for sports or other entertainment events, with a central event area surrounded by raised seats for viewers.

    sway Verb

    to move in a back-and-forth, swinging motion.

    tectonic plate Noun

    massive slab of solid rock made up of Earth's lithosphere (crust and upper mantle). Also called lithospheric plate.

    transportation Noun

    movement of people or goods from one place to another.

    trigger Verb

    to cause or begin a chain of events.