What’s Real and What’s Preposterous in ‘San Andreas’ – the Movie?

Lucy Jones.rco_blog_img_

May, 29, 2015 — Dr. Lucy Jones, Seismologist, US Geological Survey, and friend of the Red Cross Los Angeles Region, reviews the movie ‘San Andreas’ (in theaters today) for the Hollywood Reporter. Here is an excerpt of her review.

Documentaries educate while movies entertain. Documentaries explain facts while movies explore emotions.  The San Andreas movie is clearly not a documentary but it does capture some of the emotional realities of a disaster.

Nobody should confuse the San Andreas movie with Seismology 101. Hollywood always exaggerates for effect, and this movie is no exception; both the magnitude of the shaking and the damage are exaggerated beyond reality.  Magnitude 9 earthquakes only occur on subduction zones, places where tectonic plates collide, pushing one plate under another and deforming the sea floor to create tsunamis.

It has been millions of years since there was an active subduction zone under Los Angeles or San Francisco. The modern day San Andreas Fault maxes out about magnitude 8.3, and being mostly on land will never produce a big tsunami. …

The most plausible part of San Andreas was its portrayal of the emotions in a disaster. Loss of communication brings fear to families while the knowledge of how to protect yourself and those around you reduces fear and promotes survival.  San Andreas nicely shows how knowing the fundamentals of first aid, how to “Drop, Cover, Hold On,” that tsunamis can be preceded by a draw down of the ocean, that landlines work when cell phones are out, and having a family “plan B,” all can make life easier and safer after a big earthquake. …

Click here to read the entire Hollywood Reporter review.

To find a complete checklist about what to do before, during and after an earthquake visit our Red Cross PrepareSoCal website.

 

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