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Geology Department to separate fact from science fiction in film series

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Geology in the Movies, a series of movie discussions sponsored by the Geology Department and aimed at sorting through the facts in science fiction movies, will show “San Andreas” Thursday at 5 p.m. in the Science Building Room 276.

“For the sake of dramatizing a movie, a lot of times the timing, how fast it occurs or how extreme it is is exaggerated,” Ron Martino, professor of geology, said. “That’s what makes it science fiction instead of science.”

Martino said geologists must consider many elements, including the push back by politicians with a budget, when researching natural, geologic phenomena.

“In West Virginia, we have conflicts where you have oil and gas drilling that’s really important to the economy of the state, but then you have a lot of environmental concerns,” Martino said. “The permitting process is often not just tasked with looking at the science behind it but also the socio-economic impact.”

Martino said “San Andreas” is jam-packed with Hollywood action, but the entertainment industry actually does well to bring attention to real, potential conflict.

“We look at the movie critically from the standpoint of scientists,” Martino said. “Could this really happen?”

The series will continue in early Dec., when Martino plans to screen “The Day After Tomorrow.”

“What’s the past tell us about the future?” Martino asked. “Could we have an ice age in two months? Is that realistic?”

Sebastian Morris can be contacted at [email protected]

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