Monday, March 24, 2008

Accretionary Wedge #7: Geology/ists in the Movies

See Accretionary Wedge #7 at MagmaCumLaude for more movies with geology and geologists:

Friday, March 21, 2008

A 90s Movie with Some Geologic Content

I had to dig pretty deep to get a movie with some decent geology from the 1990s. "Tremors" will have to do. From the name of the fictional town (Perfection, Nevada) to Reba McEntire playing a survivalist, this movie never takes itself too seriously. Filmed on location in the eastern foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

Best Use of Paleontology in the Movies

"Bringing Up Baby" is a (perhaps "the") classic screwball comedy from the 1930s. Gary Grant plays the mild-mannered paleontologist to Katherine Hepburn's slightly ditzy socialite. Rapid-fire dialogue and unpredictable plot turns abound.

Best Sound Track for a Movie with Geologic Content

"Local Hero" has a minimum of geology even though its premise has to do with oil, but a host of memorable characters and great music are hard to resist.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Most Original Use of Igneous Rocks in a Movie

I would expect to see something about igneous rocks in a volcano flick, but in a screwball comedy? I had completely forgotten about the role that "rock music" plays in this classic from the 1970s until renting it recently. Lots of allusions to scenes from other movies.

Most Spectacular Geologic Action in a Movie

"Crack in the World" was undoubtedly inspired by Project Mohole in the 1960s ( The story is complete with tension between colleagues and has impressive special effects for their time. The gravity-defying finish is awesome. This is one of my all-time favourites, in part, because all the action takes place in the southern hemisphere!

Best Use of Mineralogy in a Movie

"Monolith Monsters" opens with a water-activated silica-sucking meteorite and ends with the hero saving the town by blowing up a dam conveniently located upstream of a salt mine. This 1950s classic contains heaps of mineral and rock jargon, some crazy ideas on silica biogeochemistry, and no "bad" two-legged aliens. Highlights are scenes of the crystal towers making their way down the canyon toward the town and of the professor and sheriff back in the lab trying to sort out what makes the crystals grow.

Worst Use of Geology in a Movie

"The Core" has an interesting premise and a great scene in which an inventor is offered a check for $50 billion to get a craft that can travel to Earth's core built in 3 months. But when the ship runs into a huge crystal-lined "cavern" in the deep mantle, the plausibility meter hits zero.

If you think such a trip is completely impossible, think again. Read about the "modest proposal" of Prof David Stevenson (a kiwi) from Caltech (