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“The earthquake button” and the story of Silicon Valley’s suburban appearance

Silicon Valley has a pretty large population, around four million people live there. However, the Valley has a suburban, rather than urban feel to it. The buildings are low and spread out, and even the most prominent venture capital firms on Sand Hill Road use one- or two story buildings as offices. The elevator in our hotel gives us a clue why this is the case – the button marked “Earthquake” is seldom seen in Europe.

California is located where two tectonic plates meet – the Pacific plate and the North American plate. Geologists estimate that the probability of a large earthquake with substantial destructive capabilities is almost 70 per cent for the coming 15 years.

Earthquakes are not unusual in the area, just like in many other parts in the world – and the constant risk has affected the infrastructure of the valley.

A large earthquake could lead to disastrous consequences for the people of Silicon Valley, but could also lead to unforeseen consequences for the rest of the world. What happens to the global Internet infrastructure for example? According to this (https://www.quora.com/What-would-happen-to-the-worlds-internet-infrastructure-services-and-businesses-should-a-major-earthquake-hit-Silicon-Valley) it seems we do not have to worry too much about that at least.