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Seismologist screens The Rock’s ‘San Andreas,’ outlines all of its gross inaccuracies

The film got a surprising amount of things right, but a lot of the science hilariously wrong.


Cynthia McKelvey

Internet Culture

Posted on May 27, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 5:54 pm CDT

If you live in California, you’re very familiar with the looming threat of a major earthquake. The phrase “overdue” causes you to plunge your head into the sand and hope that an earthquake doesn’t crush your skull right in that moment.

As such San Andreas, the latest disaster thriller starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, might not be for you. The movie is about a huge earthquake that literally shakes California down to the ground.

Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the USGS based in Pasadena, Calif., attended the Hollywood premiere of San Andreas and livetweeted her reaction to the movie. Jones is also an adviser to Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti. Jones “has become a prominent figure for not only sounding the alarm on the city’s lack of earthquake readiness but also for making seismology accessible to the public, particularly through her Twitter feed,” The LA Times reported.

Jones did allay some fears about the possibilities of an earthquake along the San Andreas fault line.

Though a magnitude 8.6 would be quite a raucous earthquake, to say the least.

It’s true. Scientists can’t predict earthquakes mainly because earthquakes are unpredictable. That is to say that they can happen pretty much anytime, without very much warning at all. Seismologists can forecast earthquake probability over a long period of time, but that’s about as far as we’ve gotten. However, some researchers have found that animal behavior can be predictive of earthquakes.

That last tweet is definitely the most important. Here’s a whole website of government recommendations on how to prepare for emergencies and natural disasters.

Photo via Eva Rinaldi/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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*First Published: May 27, 2015, 10:46 pm CDT