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Sunday, May 31, 2015


There is the San Andreas Fault, long dreaded as the line where a vulnerable portion of California could someday fall into the sea.  One of my stops in My Ultimate Global Adventure was a stay with friends at their  home in Sea Ranch, where their backyard was the point at which the fault crossed into the Pacific Ocean.  Sea Ranch is between Point Reyes and San Francisco in the above map.

San Andreas, the film, with Dwayne The Rock Johnson, wiped out the competition this weekend:
Rotten Tomatoes gave San Andreas a 48% reviewers rating, with a 64% audience score.  It cost $110 million to make, but, already in one weekend, the flick made $113 million, counting the world at large.  

In this production, California gets hit with, first, a 9.1 earthquake, then a 9.6, which would make it the most powerful ever.  Other real biggies: 
  • 9.5  1960 Chile
  • 9.3  1964 Alaska
  • 9.2  2004 Indonesia
  • 9.0  2011 Japan
Of course, there have been other truly cataclysmic ones for entertainment:
  • 10.5  In 2004, a TV movie by that name (Rotten Tomatoes audiences, 54%)
  • 10.0  In 2014, Los Angeles is wiped out
I don't write traditional movie reviews.  Sometimes, though, I use films to educate.  But first, while portions were technically silly, I thoroughly enjoyed San Andreas.  The film was intense and spectacular.  Costs more, but splurge to see it in THX  
Rock can't save Los Angeles, San Francisco and one of his daughters from an earlier drowning, but makes it up with three breathtaking rescues, including his wife and second daughter.  The computer graphics were incredible.  San Francisco, in particular, is devastated, but 9.6 is 501 times more powerful than the 7.8 of 1906.

How do you compare the relative energies of two earthquakes?  Many references make the mistake of citing amplitudes.  But amplitudes are not the story.  If you want to compare the impact of a 9.6 magnitude with a 7.8 magnitude, you need to get to the strength, or energy content, of the quakes.  Empirically, the relationship between magnitude and energy is logarithmic, so you need to do the following:

     Subtract 7.8 from 9.6        = 1.8
     Multiply by 1.5                 = 2.7
     Take 10 to the 2.7 power  = 501

Thus, the 9.6 magnitude earthquake of the film is 501 times stronger than the 7.8 magnitude of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

To summarize:
  • Subtract the smaller earthquake from the larger.
  • Multiply this difference by 1.5.
  • Place this number into the exponent of base 10.
Three examples:
  • How much more energy is impacted by that hypothetical 9.6 magnitude earthquake of  San Andreas compared to the all-time high 9.5 magnitude of the 1960 Chile earthquake?
    • 9.6 - 9.5    = 0.1
    • 0.1 x 1.5   = 0.15
    • 10**0.15  = 1.4, or the film earthquake had 1.4 more energy, or was 40% larger
  • Whether you are comparing a 6 earthquake with a 5, or 10.5 with a 9.5, the difference is exactly one, or the comparison is a ratio of 31.6.  Thus, the movie 10.5 had an earthquake with 31.6 times more energy than the 9.5 Chile earthquake.
Finally, at one time, the Richter (above) Scale was used.  A more accurate Moment Magnitude Scale (or magnitude or MMS or M) was devised in the 1970's by Tom Hanks (left, not the actor) and Hiroo Kanamori.  Finally, here are all (only up to 2003) the 203,186 earthquakes since 1898 (magnitude is cranked into the glow--that dot in the middle is Hawaii):

It would not surprise me if The Rock (here with film wife Carla Gugino) builds earthquakes into a franchise.  Next, what about his re-united family gathering in Tokyo when the really big one hits?  By then his daughter Blake (Alexandra Gaddario, in Texas Chainsaw 3D) will have a steady boyfriend, or husband, in hero Ben Taylor (Australian Hugo Johnstone-Burt).

If they wait until around the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, his younger brother Ollie (leftArt Parkinson--Irish actor in Game of Thrones) will be old enough to meet that perfect Japanese girl.  Ollie was the only real character in the movie.  Paul Giamatti (right) was also good as CalTech geophysics professor Lawrence Hayes, so he will be at an earthquake conference in Japan.  Tokyo has a 70% chance of a major earthquake in four years.  No reason why this one can't be of 9.7 magnitude (hey, it's a movie), which would make it 40% stronger than that San Francisco monster of the first film.

Then, why not?  #3 would be called The Venus Syndrome, the ultimate disaster film, for Planet Earth can be converted to Planet Venus...unless The Rock has a simple solution.  I've already got the script.

Wow, way west of Hawaii, Hurricane Andres is now up to 140 MPH, a Category 4:

However, not to worry, for the colder waters will weaken Andres, and, as currently projected, the path will actually make a right turn and head away from Hawaii.  Further west is Tropical Storm Blanca at 40 MPH, but the expectation is a sudden strengthening to at least a Category 3.  

However, Blanca will jiggle around for awhile, then move on a track north of Andres.


1 comment:

Ji Yeon said...

Thanks for sharing, nice post!

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