The 7.9 Scenario is a series of four books: three novels
and a non-fiction book, by author Sam Penny that tell what happens
when a modern-day magnitude 7.9 earthquake strikes on the New
Madrid Fault. Such an earthquake will shake 22 states and will
be felt by over 91,000,000 people, 32,000,000 of them in the
300,000-square-mile zone where damage will occur.
The novels are fast paced stories
of people who are there when the catastrophe happens, giving
readers the opportunity to vicariously live through the fierce
shaking and face the destruction of the awesome event. The characters
may be fiction, but the physical events will be all too real.
The non-fiction book of the series
details the construction of the scientific analysis of the scenario
and the writing of the series.
7.9, Book 1 of
the series, relates attempts to predict an earthquake on the
New Madrid Fault and the state of preparedness around Memphis.
The book tells of the 23.5 seconds of fracturing it takes to
ravage the eastern half of the country with over 13 minutes of
shaking. and of the immediate effects the earthquake has in Memphis.
Our country is only beginning to realize the magnitude of the
devastation and organize to do something about it.
The tale of what happens in a giant earthquake
to the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers is found in Book 2, Broken River. Levees and
dams in the lower Ohio and Mississippi Valleys have ruptured
and water floods the surrounding land. The heroic captains who
ply these waters must save their boats and refugees as they fight
nature and anarchy on their way downriver to what they hope is
safety in Memphis.
Memphis is a lost city, cut off from
the outside world. Help can only trickle in because there are
so many other places throughout the country that require aid.
Amidst all this devastation and attempts to recover, people still
covet the ability to predict earthquakes which the main character,
Chris, holds in his head. The story of his struggles is set against
the backdrop of the efforts of those in Memphis to recover and
survive in Book 3, The Phoenix
of Memphis. This book is still in development.
Book 4, The
7.9 Scenario, Analysis and Writing, tells
why and how Penny developed The 7.9 Scenario, and why he chose
to tell the world of his findings in the form of fiction. The
book provides the basics for understanding why and how earthquakes
happen and how the seismic waves do damage across the land. The
calculations of the models used by Penny to estimate shaking
intensity and damage across the eastern half of the country are
provided. This book is being serialized on this website.
There are a number of other books
that were used to build the 7.9 Scenario and to research the
scenario and write the novels. This seems to be an appropriate
place to provide some information about these books. If they
are available, links to where they may be purchased are provided.
Earthquakes, Bruce A. Bolt, University of California, Berkeley,
W H Freeman and Company, 1978-1993, 331 pages -- This was my
first bible on earthquakes. It is chock full of information about
geology and seismology. By now it may not be the most up-to-date
but it is a great read for understanding many of the basic elements
Damages & Losses From
Future New Madrid Earthquakes,
David Stewart, Ph.D., Center for Earthquake Studies, Southeast
Missouri State University, Cap;e Girardeau, Missouri 65102, 1991-1996,
68 pages w/maps (out of print) -- This report served as a primary
resource during my development of The 7.9 Scenario. It was funded
by the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency and FEMA in
1991. I used a copy of the 1996 fifth printing. As of this writing
I could find no available copies
Tide, The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed
M. Barry, Simon & Shuster, 1997, 524 pages -- This book provides
a wealth of information on the early history of the Mississippi
River and the development of the levee systems along the river
banks. It also provides some great insight into what happens
in a region when a really great disaster takes place.
Allan W. Eckert, Little Brown, 1967, 751 pages -- This is the
fictionalized story of the life of Simon Kenton, a frontiersman
who lived from 1775 to 1836. It includes the story of Tecumseh's
prediction of a great falling of the wigwams that would be a
signal in 1811 for the Native Americans of the Ohio Valley to
rise against the white invaders. It also gives some very interesting
tales about the effects along the Mississippi and Ohio when that
prediction became fact and the earthquakes hit. Kenton lost part
of his fortune in that event.
The Next New Madrid Earthquake, A Survival Guide for the
Atkinson, Southern Illinois University Press, 1989, 210 pages
-- This is an excellent book that details the potential destruction
of the Mississippi Valley in the event of a great earthquake
on the New Madrid. I found its many suggestions of what life
would be like afterward most helpful.
I also have enjoyed reading other's
earthquake stories. Here are some of the best.
8.4, Peter Hernon, Putman Publishers Group,
1999, 393 pages -- Hernon tells a tale of the New Madrid Fault
gone wild and growing. His descriptions of some of the effects
are good, but his proposed solution goes a bit beyond the bounds
of science. It appears that NBC picked up on the idea and used
it as the foundation for its TV-movie "10.5" but I
am not sure. In any case, this is a fun and good read.
J. Williams, Eos, 2000, 944 pages -- Williams uses a huge book
to tell a story of a huge earthquake, and 8.9 magnitude event
on the New Madrid Fault. He weaves a very intricate tale of the
destruction that follows. I found the book a very hard read and
have yet to complete it, but it has received some fair reviews.
A Novel, James
Dalessandro, Chronicle Books, 2004, 364 pages -- Dalessandro
tells a mixture of fact and fiction about the corruption of San
Francisco before, during, and after the 1906 earthquake. His
description of the earthquake is brief and confused, and you
need to be a native to keep up with his description of the damage
and the fire that follows. It is a fair read. It is being made
into a movie.