Geography at the movies
San Fransisco Earthquake
Wednesday, April 18th 1906 at 5:15am
Penguin Island, San Francisco, CA, United States
San Francisco, CA
The location where this type of hazard usually occurs along the edge of the oceanic and continental plates.
The map below shows the normal location of this type of hazard.
In the film the hazard was shown to be occurring in Los Angeles. This is an inaccurate location for this type of hazard because the tectonic plates move past each other instead of moving on top of each other in California.
How do Earthquakes Work?
The earthquake hazard is caused by a number of processes.
One of the most important processes to cause this hazard is the movement of the tectonic plates.
The diagram below shows how this process works.
The earth's outer crust is held in place with rough edges and lines. The energy stored here causes the pieces to slide, glide, knock and move around each piece. After a period of time, the energy and the intense pressure causes the fault lines to give way, the plates then move over, against or apart from each other.
This hazard normally produces effects such as ground shaking, people dying, getting injured or homes can be destroyed.
Transform Plate Boundary
When 2 plates slide past each other, it is called a transform plate boundary. Natural or man-made structures that cross a transform boundary split into pieces and are carried in opposite directions. No magma is formed.
When 2 plates come together, it is called a Convergent Boundary. The impact of the 2 colliding plates touches the edge of one of both plates. A chain of volcanoes often forms parallel to the boundary, to the mountain range and to the trench.
A divergent boundary occurs when 2 tectonic plates move away from each other. Beneath the rift, magma rises from the mantle. It oozes up into the gap and hardens into a solid rock while it forms a new crust on the torn edges of the plates.
Transform Plate Boundary
One real example of a hazard which has shown this is the San Fransisco Earthquake.
This event occurred in San Francisco on the 18th of April, 1906 at 5:12 am.
The event saw effects as there were over 3000 deaths and over 80% of San Francisco was destroyed.
The hazard was different to other earthquake events as the earthquake resulted as a fire. It is also remembered as one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States.
I have triangulated this information.
On a scale of 1-10, I would rate this a 7 because the fire in the movie comes out from a house, which contains electrical chords. However, this scene only showed fire breaking out of one's house and the San Fransisco earthquake has it spread around the country.
1906 San Fransisco Earthquake
How does the film differ from reality?
The film clip is similar to real life hazards in a number of ways.
The event during the clip at 0.52 seconds into clip showed that people were in fear and they were trying to escape. This is typical because people do try to run away and many freeze into fear during an earthquake.
Another expected aspect of the film that occurs in reality is that cell phones are shown to not work after the earthquake, with non-powered landlines remaining operational. Texting may work even better.
There are also some less realistic aspects of the film for example when people get hurt because of collapsing buildings during 1.38-1.40 seconds into the clip.
This is an unexpected effect because people don’t actually get hurt by falling buildings. Instead, they would usually get injured (or die) from falling objects such as furniture, TV etc.
Overall, I would rate this a level 7 as 60% of the scenes are quite realistic however some scenes are over exaggerated.