A magnitude 10.5 earthquake destroys Los Angeles, California and triggers a massive tsunami which causes massive damage to Honolulu, Hawaii. It turns out to be only the first of a series of seismic events, including the awakening of extinct volcanoes, sudden instability of aquifers, and awakening of ancient faults. The Hoover Dam in Boulder City, Nevada collapses when Lake Mead starts to heat up and expand beyond the spillway’s capacity. Las Vegas, Nevada is then destroyed when acidic water undermines underground limestone, creating a massive sinkhole. The worst of the seismic events is a massive fault which has opened up under South Dakota, destroying Mount Rushmore in the process.
The geologists at the United States Geological Survey don’t understand why seismic events that are very rare or impossible would be happening so rapidly, but Dr. Samantha Hill remembers that her father had once theorized that the Earth’s tectonic plates would reach a point of maximum separation, at which point they would reverse direction. The theory also states that related seismic activity would be vastly accelerated during the initial period of reversal. However, Dr. Earl Hill had been ostracized by the USGS for that theory, and had abandoned geology to become a successful professional poker player. When Las Vegas sinks into the ground, he is caught in the casino of the (fictional) Atlas Hotel.
The second part of the miniseries begins with Dr. Hill’s rescue from the ruins of the Atlas Hotel just before it is swallowed up completely. At the same time, a massive fault line forms in North Dakota, passing through South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. If it reaches Houston, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, as predicted, the Midwestern United States will be covered by a new ocean. A massive evacuation of the region is ordered, as an earthquake strikes Sedona, Arizona destroying the Chapel of the Holy Cross in the process. However, a nuclear plant in fictional Red Plains, Texas, is right in the fault’s path. If it is destroyed, the entire area and hundreds of miles around will be contaminated by nuclear waste.
Dr. Earl Hill comes up with a desperate plan to divert the fault around the nuclear plant by opening up a secondary fault running east, by a controlled demolition which explosively ignites the massive natural gas reserves in the area. The main fault follows the new path around Red Plains, saving the nuclear plant. However, nothing can stop the fault altogether. Once again it turns south, slicing through the middle of Houston to reach the Gulf of Mexico. At the same time, the northern half of the fault has reached Hudson Bay. When the waters rush into the fault, they create a new ocean which splits the United States and Canada in half.
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