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NBC's “10.5” may answer an age-old seismologic question

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Abstract

There is a new NBC 4-hour mini-series set to air during the May sweeps period (2–3 May), titled simply enough “10.5.” No, this is not a sequel to “9 and 1/2 weeks,” nor is it a mini-sequel to"10.” This number instead refers to a megaearthquake that rocks the west coast of the United States. One may think that the network writers have done their homework and have consulted a geophysicist or two regarding the realism of their program, let alone the title. This is just a short note to comment on their potential folly I would like to clarify to the network writers, as well as to the non-seismologists in the Earth science community what exactly a magnitude 10.5 earthquake could be, and why, if such were to occur, it may be more than just a west coast problem. Alternatively, NBC may just soon answer an age-old seismologic question…