10.5 Magnitude Earthquake Not Plausible

10.5 Magnitude Earthquake Not Plausible

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Ed Yeates Reporting Real earthquake scientists will be paying attention to the NBC fictional movie, “10.5” on Sunday. That's because they want the public to be able to separate fact from fiction. For instance, is a 10.5 earthquake even possible?

A rapid series of earthquakes leading up to a gigantic magnitude 10.5 tear apart the west coast from one end to the other. Masses of land drop, the ocean rushes in. Pretty frightening - right? So how come it has earth scientists laughing?

Kris Pankow, U. of U. Seismograph Stations: “I can’t imagine anything else. It’s so implausible that it just must be funny.”

Bob Carey, Utah Division of Emergency Services: “It’s a great Hollywood script. That’s all we can say about it because there’s not a remote stitch of fact into it.”

Fictionally entertaining it is! Special effects - good! But any backdrop for the science? It just ain't there.

Pankow: “As of yet we haven’t found any fault large enough to support a magnitude 10.5.”

In fact, energy released from a fault producing a 10.5 earthquake is no more plausible than faults cracking the whole earth in half - a scenario that would produce at best a 12.5 magnitude quake.

Take for example a seismic record of the 9.2 earthquake in alaska in 1964, a powerful earthquake. Research scientist Kris Pankow says the Alaskan quake was equivalent to 64-thousand megatons of exploded TNT. At 10.5?

Pankow: “Probably around 850-thousand megatons of TNT. So implausible? I would say so.”

But with its lack of science, emergency preparedness people say NBC's 10.5 is not without merit. Bob Carey says if it at least triggers people to educate themselves more about REAL earthquakes and the need for preparedness, that's good.

Carey: "I think one of the things the movie will do for you is that it will show the incredible vulnerability of everybody after an event like this."

So watch if you will on Sunday. But put 10.5 into perspective for what it is and it what it isn't.

The United States Geological Survey has launched a "Mega Quake" website to answer more questions about the NBC show on Sunday.

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