It's been fifty years since the Great Alaska Earthquake, the biggest ever to shake the United States. At magnitude 9.2, it leveled a city and was felt as far away as Texas. This fascinating short documentary reveals how it also led to a scientific breakthrough.

At the time of Great Alaska Earthquake, the theory of plate tectonics had only recently been considered viable. Scientists were still debating it, and seeking more evidence to bolster claims on both sides. Ultimately, evidence gathered from this quake wound up being one of the deciding factors that led to the geology community accepting plate tectonics.

This documentary was created by the US Geological Survey, a group of civil servant scientists who study the earth and the environment. USGS scientists were among the first on the scene at in 1964 after the quake, and it was their data-gathering that helped change the way we understand the planet's crust.

If you want a dose of science history with your disaster porn this afternoon, watch this short film!