Here’s another disaster movie idea, in case any Hollywood producer types are reading this thing and need some fresh material. We’ve just had the 200th anniversary of the great New Madrid earthquakes, which came and went with no film adaptation that I know of. A shame, really.
New Madrid Megaquake
Inspired By True Events: the semi-obscure series of earthquakes that struck the mid-Mississippi Valley in the winter of 1811-1812 (centered around the town of New Madrid, Missouri) were among the strongest to ever hit the continental U.S.: the magnitudes of the four main quakes are all estimated to have approached 8.0 on the Richter Scale, making them similar in magnitude to the notorious quake that devastated San Francisco in 1906. Due to different geology, however, the New Madrid quakes were felt over a huge area – it was reported that people as far away as Norfolk, VA were awakened by the tremors, and chimneys were toppled in Maine. Closer to the epicenter, waterfalls temporarily formed on the Mississippi River, and an entire lake was created in Tennessee due to the ground subsiding.
These earthquakes were so badass, they made the Mississippi River flow backwards. Yeah.
The New Madrid Fault Zone – which is still active, with minor quakes regularly reported – is a concern today because the region is much more heavily populated than it was 200 years ago, and most of the buildings in major cities such as St. Louis and Memphis have little to no earthquake-resistant features as those in more quake-prone areas such as California do. A strong earthquake in the region today would have the potential to be a major disaster.
Movie Hook: Scrappy seismologist Joe McScientist has been trying to tell everyone about the dangers of the New Madrid Fault Zone for years, but no one wants to listen to his stories about Bumfuck, Missouri any more. But Joe has a hunch that another mega quake is on the way – maybe even bigger than the major ones in 1811-1812. He somehow gets his estranged wife, geologist Jane McScientist, to take readings all up and down the Mississippi River in an effort to determine whether a long-dormant fault line is beginning to slip, possibly as a precursor to a large earthquake. The results are SHOCKING.
Possible Movie Settings: St. Louis and Memphis are highly destructible, but why stop there? Have the whole Mississippi Valley be one big fault zone – hell, make it a rift valley, like the one in Africa, where the whole continent is actually breaking apart. Have an offshoot mini-fault go up and obliterate Chicago, too, because St. Louis doesn’t have enough skyscrapers to be destroyed in ridiculous disaster porn fashion. Other possible elements and setpieces could include an olde-tymey riverboat getting sucked into a whirpool on the Mississippi, sand geysers erupting and tossing people/cars/etc. everywhere, and a Mark Twain impersonator who inexplicably shows up at random points in the movie to offer sardonic commentary on all the shit going down. And according to this survivalist website, oil drilling operations in the Gulf may be linked to increased seismic activity in the New Madrid Fault Zone, so you’ve got another plot point/initial conflict built right in.
Possible Titles: Tremor In The Heartland, Mississippi Megaquake, U Madrid Bro?