I liked Dante’s peak because it starred two of my favorite movie personalities, and there was enough action to keep my interest. As far as the geology as portrayed in the movie, the movie makes does a very good job of ensuring that the physical geology is represented very close to the real appearance. The many, though not all respects, the depiction of the eruptive dangers of volcanoes come very close to the mark. This is especially so with regards to the massive eruptive power released during a volcanic eruption. The Cascade Range stratovolcanoes of Alaska erupt explosively and release lahars (debris flows, clouds of volcanic ash and pyroclastic flows just the same way it is shown in the movie. The lava that come from these volcanoes are, however, thick and move much slower compared to what is shown in the movie. The basalt lava of Hawaii is fast-flowing and may be significantly smaller or larger and affect smaller or larger areas compared to those in the movie (Leeper).
In the movie, the volcano threatens helicopters. Just as depicted in the clip, this is very possible in the real world. Jet engines may be severely damaged by the abrasive volcanic ash which is fine enough to enter the engines. In about 40% of aeroplane encounter with volcanic ash, plane engines lost power temporarily (Leeper). Additionally, volcanic ash drifts hundreds of kilometres in the air and hence may even affect planes further from the eruption area.
A clear observation in the movie, there are also temperature changes associated with volcanoes, especially in hot springs. The movie indicated a rapid increase in temperature of hot springs initially used for bathing by people. In reality, temperature change occur but at a much slower rate than shown in the film. The changes are not only on the increase, but temperatures of hot springs may decrease although this takes a few days. Earthquakes, though, are known to cause abrupt changes in underground water flow and temperatures (Gram 8). They produce an increase in underground water flow resulting in geyser-like activity that threatens bathers’ safety. Water supply can also be contaminated just as shown in the movie. This again happens slower than suggested in the film and occurred if the water is supplied from a volcanic groundwater system. It can also happen if the water is the steam that is covered with volcanic ash that results in foul-smelling water due to fine volcanic ash and gases (Gram 2-10).
In the movie, the volcanic activity depicted shows an explosive explosion and fluid lava rivers at the same time. Such a case is not usually true in an actual volcanic activity. The composition of lava is usually constant and hence can either be the fluid rivers of lava or more vicious magma. The red glowing lava flows in the film is characteristic of basalt, and the grey ash columns are characteristic of andesite, decite or rhyolite. It tends to suggest that the magma is made of two entire different components which are unusual. The movie is also accurate in its reporting of the acidification of water bodies like lakes. However, it is unrealistic that a lake can be acidified during a volcanic eruption to a point that an aluminium boat is dissolved in a matter of minutes. Most acid lakes are those on top of volcanic craters and can have a pH as low as 0.1. The pH of most water contaminated with volcanic ash may be low and can easily burn the human skin but the chances of it dissolving a metal are quite limited. Magma gases that dissolves in lakes from acidic water. Such gases include hydrogen chloride, hydrogen sulphide, sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide. It takes a considerably lengthier time for these gases to dissolve in water than is shown in the film (Gram 23).
The strong earthquakes that are shown to accompany volcanic activity in the film do not happen in reality. Rarely do earthquakes associated with volcanic activity exceed magnitude five. Mount St. Helens Pinatubo volcano of 1980 had an accompanying earthquake of magnitude five which was strong enough to sway buildings and trees, but it did not destroy them. Thousands of people felt dozens of moderately light earthquakes (magnitude three to five) during the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991. Hundreds of houses collapsed, but it was not as a result of the shaking but rather because of the wet ash from the eruption and the hurricane that made it accumulate on roofs causing them to crush. If however, a volcanic activity is a result of faulting (line of weakness), then stronger earthquakes will accompany the eruption because of the movement that is associated (Newhall 5).
The film, Dante’s Peak head many impacts on the environment like raising the temperature of spring water and polluting water supply, as well as acidifying lake water. These aspects have great environmental and socio-economic impacts in the current society. The movie maker almost was accurate in doing the visuals since most of the occurrences are almost the way they would be in an actual event. As observed, it is important that such natural occurrence is utilized positively to prevent any chances of negative results. The movie should not be taken for granted by the relevant bodies but should act as one of the major landmarks in learning the impact of both horizontal and lateral movements across the globe.
Gram, D. Dante's Peak. London: Pearson Education Limited, 1999. Document.
Leeper, M. Dante's Peak (1997). 2 November 2007. Text. 1 April 2015.
Newhall, C. FIRE and MUD Eruptions and Lahars of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines. Washington, DC: Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, 2004. Document. 17 April 2015.