San Andreas Fault

What Is San Andreas And Why Millions Fear It?

San Andreas is a disaster movie starring The Rock, which is making all kinds of money at the box office. However, it actually exists, and it’s terrifying to think what could happen should it ever become active again.

The San Andreas Fault is one of the best-known faults in the world, and it gained notoriety after the famous 1906 San Francisco earthquake that destroyed most of the city and killed 3,000 people. The fault is terrifying to millions of California residents, who have been warned for decades that “the big one” can hit when they least expect it as many big quakes have struck in the location of the fault.

Now that the movie is a hit, people are even more aware of the San Andreas fault, but aside from preparing buildings to withstand the incredible force of nature, not much can be done as earthquakes cannot be predicted at this time. Despite modern technology, scientists have been unable to determine when or where an earthquake strikes with any certainty.

San Andreas movie
San Andreas movie (Warner Bros.)

While things have improved and we now know whether there is a tsunami threat as well following a violent earthquake, that is about it, and residents of one of the most populated areas in the U.S. are at the mercy of mother nature. The San Andreas Fault is where the North American and Pacific Plates meet, and many major earthquakes have happened along the length of the fault. explains how an earthquake happens.

“The plates are continually moving but where the touch each other, they get stuck. As the rest of the plates moves, the stuck parts deform like compressing a spring so they build up stress in the rocks along the fault. When the rock breaks or slips, the suddenly plates move, causing an earthquake. The entire process is called elastic rebound. As they break and scrape by one another, they produce seismic waves that travel through the ground and shake the surface.”

San Andreas Fault map
Image via

California residents have a potentially devastating earthquake in the back on their consciousness, and for anyone who has lived in an area prone to earthquakes, the possibilities are simply terrifying. First, you don’t know when and where. Second, every time the earth shakes, nobody knows if it’s “the big one,” and third, you can’t really prepare for it other than have a plan, which can be influenced by many factors that are out of your control.

The destruction seen in the Dwayne Johnson flick is unlikely, according to scientists. However, that doesn’t mean an earthquake in this area wouldn’t cause unprecedented destruction. Hopefully, all the talk and preparation means that most buildings are able to withstand the force unleashed by the San Andreas Fault.

[Image via Ikluft/Wikipedia]