It's winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and you may be getting a bit housebound by now. You've watched all the fiction shows you can stomach, and you're in the mood for mayhem, yeah? Well, that's good, because while my housemate B convalesces, we've been watching documentaries on Netflix. So I've got a few recommendations for ye!
I'm sorry to report it'll frustrate the heck out of those of you who want in-depth coverage of topics rather than a shallow survey, but it's still a fun show. I'm sorry to admit that approximately 58.6% of my enjoyment of it comes from the fact that the narrator sounds like a Mark Gatiss impersonator, and another 29.12% comes from his inability to pronounce geographic place names I know well. Brace yourselves for a name you love to be mutilated almost beyond recognition. But it's oddly charming.
Episodes cover a nice variety of geologic disasters. They start with volcanoes, covering many of our favorite Pacific Northwestern and Icelandic favorites, among many others. Mount St. Helens is given quite a lot of air time, which is very satisfying to fans like us. It's a really nice survey of volcano basics, so if you've got someone in your circle you'd like to hook, I can definitely recommend it. Bits of it may be a bit intense for children, if they're sensitive to things like learning how many tens of thousands of people a volcano can kill, but there's nothing graphic. So please do feel free to include children in your viewing – things like this can spark a lifelong love of the earth sciences.
Several episodes cover earthquakes. One focuses exclusively on American quakes, and features such famous ones as the San Francisco earthquake, Loma Prieta, and Northridge. Two more episodes cover other countries and continents. Very good stuff.
There's an episode on floods, which is great for the budding hydrogeologists in the audience. There are parts of that one that certainly reinforce the notion that we should be very, very careful about the type of geology we're building our dams on. A further episode on tsunamis combines geology and flooding in a most satisfying manner.
The series ends with an episode on landslides. Alas, it's from 2009, so there isn't anything on the Oso or Sierra Leone mudslides we've discussed here. But there's plenty else to keep lovers of the good science of land falling down happy.
All that geology, plus plenty of meteorological mayhem, makes for some very satisfying viewing indeed.
This is the thick and meaty stuff, my friends. There is an absolutely marvelous episode on Cascadia that tells you precisely how terrifying that subduction zone is, and explores in some detail the consequences Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland will face when the fault rips. There's also some really excellent stuff on New Madrid. If you're a fan of great big earthquake disasters, you'll want to watch this one for sure.
They also have a delicious episode on tsunamis that explores in some depth the tsunami threat from Cumbre Vieja on La Palma. There are so many glorious shots of the volcano and the island that my friend B and I nearly booked our trip on the spot. What I love the most about the episode is that they do present the contrary evidence and theories: they don't just take the worst case scenario and pretend it's the only one. Of course they emphasize it, because you can't have an episode about a mega-tsunami without a mega-threat, but they spent an admirable amount of time exploring contrary theories. I liked it a lot.
We'll be reporting back on our further forays into geologic disaster programming on Netflix. I hope you thoroughly enjoy exploring with us!