San Andreas, Dwayne Johnson’s blockbuster hit the U.S. cinemas on Memorial Day, featuring a Hollywood trademark havoc-inducing natural disaster.
The genre is already an established one, captivating millions of spectators and leaving quite a number of these wondering if the scenarios are really plausible. Could we indeed be heading to an apocalyptic moment like San Andreas is showcasing?
Likely not is the answer of U.S. geologists. The San Andreas Fault is indeed a real threat, but the apocalyptic dimensions rendered in the movie belong to fiction.
The movie, opening with day-to-day all so familiar scenes easily to relate to, quickly escalates into havoc that spreads from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Fire engulfs everything, skyscrapers tumble to the ground and the Golden Gate Bridge is swallowed by a never-before seen tsunami.
The three official trailers released online gathered millions of views together, with the latest counting singlehandedly over 2 million views.
While Johnson’s San Andreas can be indisputably enjoyed as a work of fiction, scientist in the U.S. debunk the myths that could trap millions in fear.
San Andreas Fault is a real seismic threat worldwide. Its 800 miles length cuts through California and is indeed responsible for some of the largest seismic movements in history.
In the movie, a fault in the vicinity of Hoover Dam, Nevada breaks and triggers the dormant San Andreas. A 9.1 magnitude earthquake follows in South California and a 9.6 magnitude quake quickly shakes North California.
Susan Hough, U.S. Geological Survey seismologist stated for the press that while the threat of San Andreas rupturing again without notice is real, a magnitude 9 or higher is virtually implausible as the fault is neither long nor deep enough.
To date, the 1960 9.5 magnitude earthquake that happened in Chile is the absolute record holder. That was due to tectonic plates diving beneath one another in a seduction zone. In 1906, a 7.8 magnitude quake caused by the San Andreas Fault reduced parts of San Francisco to fiery debris.
The United States Geological Survey has already prepared a scenario back in 2008 that detailed what could happened if a 7.8 magnitude quake shook the south of San Andreas Fault. It resulted in a crisis-scenario loaded with 1,800 deaths, as well as 50,000 injuries, brick buildings, concrete structures and steel buildings collapsing.
Computer modeling showed that the damage would proportionally increase considering that the San Andreas is capable of producing a 8.3 magnitude quake. However, that is where the line is drawn.
Compared to the movie where it seems that preventive mechanisms work like a charm, the U.S. Geological Survey declared that monitoring and predicting earthquakes is still an elusive science. All potential warning signs that have been so far under scrutiny fail to accurately inform scientists about the occurrence of an earthquake, if at all.
Mrs. Hough from the U.S. Geological Survey commented that the amount of work required to predict a quake of whichever magnitude is never as easy as fictional work makes it look.
Also, unlike what was witnessed in the movie, the San Andreas can’t create tsunamis. Most tsunamis are spawned by underwater quakes. At the same time they can be caused by landslides, volcano eruption and activity and even meteor impacts.
The San Andreas Fault supposes that blocks of rocks are sliding next to each other. A big San Andreas inflicted quake is undoubtedly able to lead to fire and destruction in the area where it occurs. Yet, it is unrealistic to believe that it could displace large volumes of water that would eventually engulf San Francisco.
Do not fret. Until now, more than 80 tsunamis, albeit small have been recorded along California’s coast spawned mainly by faraway quakes.
San Andreas can create havoc, but not of the dimensions presented in the blockbuster.
Image Source: youtube