Sunday, May 31, 2015

‘San Andreas’ Movie Destroying S.F. is Great Fun, Bad Science

By David Perlman

The latest Big Disaster movie is wiping out San Francisco this week as a monster earthquake and tsunami swallows the city and drowns the Golden Gate Bridge — all in less than two hours on the silver screen.

To the real experts on quakes and their effects — the geologists and emergency specialists who watched it at a Friday night showing sponsored by the city’s Office of Emergency Services — the film is a hoot, and crammed with more ersatz seismic science than Hollywood has ever before conjured up.

But the experts loved it and laughed as the movie’s star, chief firefighter Dwayne Johnson (the Rock), wrestles with his official helicopter, steals a pickup truck, flies a fixed-wing plane and finally uses a million-dollar speedboat to outrun a tsunami’s smashing crest and find safety beyond Mile Rock.

“But he’s headed the wrong way,” geophysicist Ross Stein of the U.S. Geological Survey said with a laugh. “He shouldn’t try to beat a tsunami — he should turn the boat around and head inland into the nearest slough. It’s calmer there.”

Too big for fault

And a really big tsunami is impossible in California, Stein said, because the San Andreas is what geologists call a strike-slip fault and it would inevitably rupture sideways in a real earthquake; it couldn’t do more than make ripples, except perhaps in a harbor, Stein said.

Read the rest here.

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