Tectonic Warfare

In the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill – with a theme song by Duran Duran – Christopher Walken plays the bad guy, Max Zorin.

Zorin goes speed-boating with Grace Jones and grins a lot. He has blonde hair.
His plan? To blow-up the San Andreas fault outside San Francisco. This will cause a massive earthquake that will flood Silicon Valley and thus do something or other for Zorin's own microchip business.
This will allow him to take over the world.
The plan is worked out – this is fascinating – using a model of the city, while flying around in a blimp. You're in the realm of simulation, hovering anti-gravitationally above the planet – even while discussing a plan to weaponize the earth.

They may as well have hired BLDGBLOG to write the screenplay...
Because then Zorin goes beneath the earth's surface, wearing a hardhat, where he gets into a discussion with some engineers about the geotechnical nature of the San Andreas fault – including how to blow the thing sky high.

Max Zorin, in other words, has declared tectonic war on the United States.

[Images: The mine Zorin's dug, the sacs of explosives Zorin's laid, the militarization of seismic activity Zorin has therefore achieved: yes, it's James Bond in his mid-80s heyday].

Bond teams up with a female geologist to thwart this evil plan; needless to say, they thwart it.

Two quick points: harddrives are already landscapes, of magnetized silicon; therefore by bombing the San Andreas to achieve a kind of microchip/harddrive monopoly, Zorin is imploding the macro- into the micro-, one landscape into the other. William Blake would have loved this film!
Second, I'd bet $100 the U.S. military already has something like this in the works: surprise earthquakes in Iran, anyone? Surprise earthquakes in Pakistan?
I mention all this because I was thinking of Max Zorin and his View to a Kill when I read about Bill Ellsworth of the US Geological Survey and his suspicious seismic plan: "Ellsworth, his USGS colleague Stephen Hickman and Mark Zoback of Stanford University in California... will use an oil drilling rig to burrow to within metres of where earthquakes are born [on the San Andreas fault]. Then they plan to set up an electronic network and watch the tremors go off again and again... By drilling directly into the fault, the team will be able to observe the chemistry and physics of what happens before, during and after quakes as never before. "
Or so they claim.

[Image: A cross-section of Ellsworth's San Andrean lab; from New Scientist].

The New Scientist reports that Ellsworth's team will also use a strategy called the "virtual quake": "During a natural quake, seismic waves created by movement at a fault are detected at the surface and analysed to estimate their point and time of origin. In their virtual quake the researchers turned this on its head by firing off seven explosions at the surface. They then used the newly installed sensors to detect these seismic waves at depth. Since the timing and location of the explosions were known, the team was able to map the structure of rock even more precisely" – and future strategies of tectonic warfare were no doubt noted...
Anyway, you can read more about it here and here; or you can watch the Bond film – or you can even declare tectonic war on some country yourself – earth as the planet-weapon – but either way be sure to think of BLDGBLOG...

You know he is.

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Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

You may remember that, in the original "Superman" movie (1978), Lex Luthor planned to send a nuke into the San Andreas Fault to cause the California coastline to fall into the sea -- Luthor had bought up land inland. This was a simple real estate swindle the American moviegoer could understand. It also appealed to our intuition that California would surely, one way or another, fall into the sea someday.

Also, you are probably aware that the theory that the U.S. is able to cause earthquakes was floated in the dubious Mel Gibson movie "Conspiracy Theory" (1997). (That was the movie where Gibson kept his refrigerator locked, hoarded copies of _Catcher in the Rye_, and feared anyone from Harvard -- especially bizarro Captain Picard.)

Why didn't they pick Christopher Walken as the new blonde Bond?

November 20, 2005 7:16 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

I never saw Conspiracy Theory, actually. And I'd forgotten about Superman! But I like your real estate swindle interpretation. I wonder if you could just buy the Fault. The whole thing. Just buy it, and do what you want.

And I heard Walken turned down the new Bond role so that he could run for president... :)

November 21, 2005 1:50 PM  

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