I know, I know, it's just a movie.
But I yelled, 'Hey, wait a minute' when I saw the Hoover Dam being destroyed by seismic shaking in the new trailer for the disaster movie "San Andreas," which opens next May. The collapse of the dam doesn't seem plausible. I called San Diego State seismologist Tom Rockwell to check.
"You should talk with a structural engineer, but my gut feeling is that the dam is too far away to be destroyed by a quake on the San Andreas," said Rockwell, who has done a lot of research on the fault. "Shaking gets weaker the further you get from an earthquake. And the dam is 195 miles (east) of the San Andreas. The ground acceleration would be very low by the point."
The Hoover Dam is a 726-foot tall concrete arch-gravity dam that's located on the border of Arizona and Nevada. It impounds water from Lake Mead, some of which is released for use in San Diego. The dam is considered to be an engineering masterpiece. That doesn't mean it is indestructible. But shaking from a distant quake isn't a major threat.
At least, not the kind of shaking that you'd expect. Scientists say the largest earthquake on the San Andreas would be in the 8.0 to 8.1 magnitude range. That could topple high-rise buildings in Los Angeles (which does happen in 'San Andreas'). The fictional shaking in the movie could be far larger. The trailer doesn't reveal that much.
San Andreas trailer
Could Hoover Dam be destroyed? ›
If the Hoover Dam broke, it would lead to severe problems and damage. There is more than 10 trillion gallons of water on the lake side portion of the Hoover Dam. If the dam broke, this water would flow down the Colorado River at a very fast speed, likely destroying any buildings and other objects in its path.Can a 7.1 earthquake destroy Hoover Dam? ›
Can a 7.1 magnitude earthquake destroy the Hoover Dam? Probably not even possible to fail a concrete gravity dam with an earthquake, especially one as massive as Hoover.Is the Hoover Dam on the San Andreas fault? ›
And the dam is 195 miles (east) of the San Andreas. The ground acceleration would be very low by the point." The Hoover Dam is a 726-foot tall concrete arch-gravity dam that's located on the border of Arizona and Nevada.Could an earthquake take out the Hoover Dam? ›
Extensive seismic analysis says the probability of failure is very, very remote at the Hoover Dam. Other dams might be at risk. But even if they failed, it's not that they would explode. Rather, the dam would develop cracks, causing water to seep through first.What will happen to Vegas if Lake Mead dries up? ›
Without Lake Mead, Las Vegas would lose access to 90 percent of its water sources. If Lake Mead were to reach dead pool, it would technically still be able to supply drinking water to Las Vegas. But there will not be enough water for agricultural activities.Which species will stop Hoover Dam? ›
Atlantium's technology is designed to prevent fouling at Hoover Dam by the quagga mussel, which threatens to clog the turbine's water cooling system and thus interfere with the dam's electricity production.Has there ever been a 10.0 earthquake? ›
No, earthquakes of magnitude 10 or larger cannot happen. The magnitude of an earthquake is related to the length of the fault on which it occurs. That is, the longer the fault, the larger the earthquake.Can the San Andreas fault cause a 9.0 earthquake? ›
The San Andreas fault is not long and deep enough to have a magnitude 9 or larger earthquake as depicted in the movie. The largest historical earthquake on the northern San Andreas was the 1906 magnitude 7.9 earthquake.
Some speculate the water would spread into the Mojave National Preserve and communities in southeastern California all the way to the Salton Sea, an area that was routinely flooded by the Colorado River before the dam was built in the 1930s. Approximately 25 million people depend on water from Lake Mead.What year will the Hoover Dam be fully cured? ›
“The Hoover Dam concrete would cure in 125 years by conventional or natural methods.
Is there a dam bigger than the Hoover Dam? ›
There is one dam in the United States taller than Hoover Dam, and that is the Oroville Dam on the Feather River in California. It stands 770 feet (235 meters) tall, but it is an earthfill dam, not a concrete structure like Hoover.What happens if the Hoover Dam runs out of water? ›
If Lake Mead were to run out of water, the Hoover Dam would no longer be able to generate power or provide water to surrounding cities and farms. The Colorado River would essentially stop flowing, and the Southwest would be in a major water crisis.What was the biggest earthquake in US history? ›
The largest recorded earthquake in the United States was a magnitude 9.2 that struck Prince William Sound, Alaska on Good Friday, March 28, 1964 UTC.What is the strongest earthquake ever on earth? ›
The most powerful earthquake recorded on the Richter scale was the 9.5-magnitude Valdivia Earthquake that struck Chile in 1960, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The seismic event created a tsunami which together killed an estimated 5,700 people.What is the largest earthquake in human history? ›
The strongest earthquake on record is a magnitude 9.5 quake that rocked Bio-Bio, Chile, on May 22, 1960. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), this temblor was just one in a series of quakes that lasted for days and ruptured a 600-mile-long section of fault.How long would it take the Hoover Dam to harden if we hadn't invented the ice water pipes? ›
The Hoover Dam concrete would cure in 125 years by conventional or natural methods. Crews, however, used some innovative engineering methods to hasten the process. Nearly 600 miles of steel pipes woven through the concrete blocks significantly reduced the chemical heat from the setting for the concrete.How long would the Hoover Dam last without humans? ›
While the dam is expected to last for centuries, engineers predict the structure could last for more than 10,000 years, surpassing most remnants of human civilization if humans were to disappear from the earth. However, they also predict the dam's turbines without human intervention would shut down within two years.Why can't you pour water over the Hoover Dam? ›
If one pours water you expect it to go down on the pavement, however while gravity says 'yes' the Hoover Dam says 'no'. If you try to pour water off of this dam, the liquid will go straight to the sky. An updraft causes water to flow up and over this mom as she pours out her container over the Hoover Dam. Unbelievable!What will happen if Hoover Dam shuts down? ›
If hydroelectric power from the dam halts, energy will be replaced with more expensive and less clean sources, such as a mix of fossil fuels and renewables. The water supply is more at risk. "Water has fewer substitutes than hydroelectricity," Bair said.How long is the Hoover Dam expected to last? ›
While the dam is expected to last for centuries, engineers predict the structure could last for more than 10,000 years, surpassing most remnants of human civilization if humans were to disappear from the earth. However, they also predict the dam's turbines without human intervention would shut down within two years.
What would happen if the Hoover Dam dried up? ›
If Lake Mead were to run out of water, the Hoover Dam would no longer be able to generate power or provide water to surrounding cities and farms. The Colorado River would essentially stop flowing, and the Southwest would be in a major water crisis.What cities would be destroyed if Hoover Dam broke? ›
The towns include Laughlin, Nevada; Needles, California; Lake Havasu, Arizona; and even as far south as Yuma, Arizona, and San Luis Rey, Colorado, a border community in Mexico. There are also three Native American reservations along the Colorado River that would be affected.How long till Lake Mead is empty? ›
Even though the rules for operating the reservoirs expire in 2026, and we should be knee-deep in negotiations for how we manage Lake Mead and Lake Powell for the next 20 years, Reclamation's modeling remains focused on the short term.Could Hoover Dam be built today? ›
But experts say the Dam would not pass today's environmental guidelines. The Hoover Dam harnessed the power of the Colorado River to generate reliable electricity for southern California, Las Vegas, and many of the factories that helped win World War II. It also created much-needed jobs during the Great Depression.What year will the Hoover Dam concrete cure? ›
“The Hoover Dam concrete would cure in 125 years by conventional or natural methods. Crews, however, used some innovative engineering methods to hasten the process.What dam failure caused the greatest loss of life in the US? ›
After several days of heavy rainfall in May 1889, the South Fork Dam 14 miles upstream of Johnstown in Pennsylvania failed catastrophically. The resulting flood of 1889 killed more than 2,200 people and caused US$17m damage. It is still the worst dam disaster in US history.Will Lake Mead ever be full again? ›
In fact, the recent storms haven't changed a view shared by many Southern California water managers: Don't expect lakes Mead and Powell, the nation's largest reservoirs, to fill up again anytime soon.What will happen to Las Vegas if the water level in Lake Mead gets too low? ›
Without Lake Mead, Las Vegas would lose access to 90 percent of its water sources. If Lake Mead were to reach dead pool, it would technically still be able to supply drinking water to Las Vegas. But there will not be enough water for agricultural activities.