A Massive Earthquake Would Subject L.A. to Furious Fires
San Andreas/Warner Bros.
One of the jaw-dropping scenes in the earthquake flick San Andreas, which opens today, is a depiction of a temblor-caused tidal wave overshadowing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Seismologists have laughed that one off. In fact, they've discounted much of the earthquake action in the flick.
A tsunami couldn't be sparked by California's most-feared earthquake fault, the inland-based, "strike-slip" San Andreas. And the San Andreas couldn't generate the kind of magnitude seen on the big screen, either.
Experts believe an 8.0 on the Richter scale is the max for this particular saint.
However, one thing we should be wary of if the Big One strikes is fire: Blazes will erupt with historic fury.
Experts at USC this week reiterated this as a warning that Sourthern Californians should be prepared.
The film "exaggerates the potential damage to modern well-built structures," says Thomas Jordan, professor of earth sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and director of the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).
But fire will happen, he says:
One of the things we are most worried about is fire following earthquake. You actually can get firestorms that start to sweep across large sections of the city.
That's probably not as sexy or fearsome as a giant wave crashing into the Golden Gate Bridge. But it could be just as damaging, perhaps more so. Jordan:
Earthquakes have the potential of really huge damage in Los Angeles, and we have to keep that in mind.
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