There are so many movies themed on mass human extinction. ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, ‘2012’, ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ are just some movies on this huge list of global-catastrophe themed films on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_disaster_films). One of the movies listed is a 2015 flop (6.1 on IMDB, 48% on Rotten Tomatoes), called ‘San Andreas’, named after the fault line that lies there. Remember that, I’ll bring it up later.
These movies often contain scenes where huge chunks of earth are flung up, hundred meter fissures develop in a matter of seconds, and the protagonist’s family out run nature in a minivan as the earth behind them disintegrates. These movies have something else in common: they all fall under the “fiction” category.
However, Kathryn Schulz’ article, ‘The Really Big One’, warns us otherwise. The articles mentions the possibility of a San Andreas disaster, but continues to say it is relatively small compared to the Japanese tsunami of 2011. The article, however, does talk about a worse event, an event with a one in ten chance of happening. This event, she calls ‘The Really Big One’.
Before we get to that, imagine you put a penny aside, every day. How much money would that be after a year? What if you continued it for a thousand years? You would have a problem storing the pennies, because you would have a block of pennies weighing more than a car. A penny a day is nearly nothing, but over time the sum becomes extremely large.
‘The Really Big One’ is the result of something similar: compression built up in the rocks of the Earth over centuries is suddenly released. The edge of the North American plate (according to the article), is bulging and compressing at some 30 to 40 millimeters a year; I’m sure people living there cannot feel any change at all. In the event of ‘The Really Big One’ happening, the ground would rise to up to A HUNDRED FEET in a matter of minutes. It would, in the article’s words, “rebound”.
What would we do if this were to happen? I don’t know. Kathryn doesn’t either, she doesn’t tell us in the article. Do you have any ideas?