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The Science of 'San Andreas': The Rock vs. Earthquake Prep

June 4, 2015 Leave a comment dridrive

It’s summer, which means it’s time for blockbuster movies featuring the biggest disasters Hollywood can come up with – starting with The Rock versus earthquakes in San Andreas! But the big question: should anything in that movie worry emergency preppers? 

For starters, the 9.5 magnitude quake isn’t possible in California, according to seismologist Dr. Lucille Jones, who took to Twitter with her assessment of some of the more fantastical science in the movie.  And Paul Giamatti’s earthquake-predictions stay in the realm of fiction, too. “We can recognize that an earthquake’s begun so quickly that we get the information to you before the shaking gets to you,” she told NPR. “That doesn’t give you a lot of warning. Unfortunately, what they’re doing in the movie has really been shown to not work.”

And despite conventional wisdom, you don’t want to be standing in a doorway when a quake hits. “In any modern construction, the doorway’s no stronger than anywhere else and it usually has a door and that door is gonna be flopping back and forth during the earthquake. And we’ve seen a bunch of injuries, people being hit by the door.”

But the biggest fantasy in the movie: the giant tsunami that towered over the Golden Gate Bridge, ignoring gravity in the process. ““A tsunami is not a cresting wave — it’s a sudden rise in sea level,” she explains. “And it doesn’t turn off gravity: The water flows back in, it doesn’t sit there. What’s most damaging is the current moving in and out.

But there have been some positive results to all the chaos caused in the film: according to TMZ, sales on disaster prep kits have spiked 300% for some online retailers!