In 2009, American geologist Adrian Helmsley visits astrophysicist Satnam Tsurutani in India and learns that neutrinos from a massive solar flare are causing the temperature of the Earth's core to rapidly increase. Arriving at a party in Washington, D.C, Helmsley presents his information to White House Chief of Staff Carl Anheuser, who takes him to meet the President.
Dr. Harry Dalton (Pierce Brosnan), a volcanologist of the United States Geological Survey, and his partner Marianne (Walker Brandt), are studying volcanic activity in Colombia when the volcano erupts. Marianne is killed by a piece of falling debris, leaving Harry remorseful about her death, believing it could have been prevented by evacuating sooner.
An earthquake strikes the city of Los Angeles. Mike Roark (Tommy Lee Jones), the head of the city's Office of Emergency Management, insists on coming to work to help out with the crisis, even though he has taken a vacation with his daughter Kelly (Gaby Hoffmann). His associate Emmit Reese (Don Cheadle) notes the quake caused no major damage, but seven utility workers are later burned to death in a storm drain, one escaped and survived but was severely burned on one side of his face at MacArthur Park. As a precaution, Roark tries to halt the subway lines which run parallel to where the deaths took place, but Los Angeles MTA Chairman Stan Olber (John Carroll Lynch) declines, feeling there is no threat to the trains. Against regulations, Roark and a colleague Gator Harris (Michael Rispoli) venture down the storm sewer in the park to investigate. They are nearly burned to death when hot gases suddenly spew out of a crack in the concrete lining and flood the tunnel. Geologist Dr. Amy Barnes (Anne Heche) believes a volcano may be rapidly forming beneath the city with magma flowing underground (similar to the formation of the Mexican volcano Parícutin which emerged and grew tremendously in just one week) but cannot come up with enough evidence for Roark to take action.
Une des fortes éruptions se produit dans le mont Paektu. Scientifiques et militaires du Corée du Nord et du Sud s’entraident pour prévenir ce catastrophe, car de nouvelles explosions risquent dominer la péninsule coréenne…
Submersible pilot Toshio Onodera wakes up pinned inside his car in Numazu after an earthquake wreaks havoc in the city and nearby Suruga Bay. As aftershock triggers an explosion, a rescue helicopter led by Reiko Abe saves him and a young girl named Misaki.
Joe Banks (Tom Hanks) is a downtrodden everyman from Staten Island, working a clerical job in a dreary factory for an unpleasant, demanding boss, Frank Waturi (Dan Hedaya). Joyless, listless, and chronically sick, Banks regularly visits doctors who can find nothing wrong with him. Finally, Dr. Ellison (Robert Stack) diagnoses an incurable disease called a "brain cloud" which has no symptoms, but will kill Joe within five or six months. Ellison says that Joe's ailments were psychosomatic, caused by his horrific experiences in his previous job as a firefighter. Ellison advises him, "You have some life left...live it well." Joe tells his boss off, quits his job, and asks former coworker DeDe (Meg Ryan) out on a date, but when he tells her that he is dying, she becomes very upset and leaves.
On the fictional Pacific island of Talua in French Polynesia, some 500 miles from Tahiti, Father Doonan (Spencer Tracy), has been relieved of his duties by Father Perreau (Kerwin Mathews). Father Doonan has fallen out of favor with the island's residents because he stumbled on the island's carefully hidden secret: Hansen's Disease (leprosy) among the children of the islands. He built a hospital for the children by the island's volcano.
Shelby Gilmore (William Holden), who owns a newly constructed hotel on a remote Pacific island, wants desperately to marry his secretary, Kay Kirby (Jacqueline Bisset) and proposes to her under the impression that she'll become his seventh wife. Kay is in love with Hank Anderson (Paul Newman), an oil rigger whose scientists are warning him that a nearby active volcano is about to erupt.
In 1883, the Boston, Massachusetts, company that owns the full-rigged sailing ship Gerrymander gives the ship's captain, Captain Boll, six months to show a profit for the company in the Gerrymander 's operations in the Netherlands East Indies. Facing both pirates and a trade exclusion policy that prevents him from carrying goods between ports in the islands, Boll looks for a way for the Gerrymander to make money. In Soerabaja on Java, Boll encounters an Indonesian whose life he once saved. The Indonesian tells Boll that native divers salvaged a fortune in diamonds from the sunken ship Pieterzoon, contrary to legend which says the diamonds were lost. The Indonesian directs Boll to a Chinese junk captain who has cargo that will lead Boll to the diamonds.
In the time of Jesus Christ, blacksmith Marcus (Preston Foster) is content with his life, beautiful wife Julia (Gloria Shea) and six-month-old son. However, when Julia and their child are run down by a chariot in the streets of Pompeii, Marcus spends the little money he has to pay for a doctor and medicine. Needing more, in desperation, he becomes a gladiator. He wins his fight, but in vain; his wife and child die.
In Pompeii, in the year 79AD, Lysias, a wealthy young Greek, abducts the beautiful Hélène, who is a pupil of Arbax, the sinister High Priest of Isis. For revenge, Arbax causes Lysias to drink a magic potion to make him fall in love with his ally Julie, but Lysias becomes mad from the drink. Nidia, a young slave girl rescued by Lycias, has overheard the plot and accuses Arbax of trying to kill her master. Arbax kills the girl and has Lysias accused of the murder. Condemned to the lions in the arena, Lysias only escapes the punishment when the eruption of Vesuvius brings panic to the town, and he leads Hélène to safety.
Glaucus, a centurion returning to his home in Pompeii after a spell in Palestine, arrives on the edge of town just in time to see Ione, the beautiful daughter of the city's Consul, lose control of her chariot. Glaucus saves Ione's life and then heads into town to see his father. On the way, Glaucus intervenes in defense of a thief named Antonius, who is being severely punished on orders given by Gallinus, a Praetorian Guard. On arriving at his father's house, Glaucus discovers that it has been looted and his father murdered by a band of ruthless hooded thieves who have been terrorizing the city, always leaving a cross painted on a wall as a calling card. Glaucus vows revenge against the killers.
À cause d'une rivalité amoureuse, Glauco, un bel Athénien aux multiples conquêtes, devient le pire ennemi d'Arbace, grand prêtre égyptien du temple d'Isis. Ce dernier a déjà éliminé un de ses proches qui menaçait de faire des révélations sur son compte et s'arrange pour faire accuser Glauco à sa place, qu'il fait jeter dans la fosse aux lions. Mais peu après, le Vésuve entre en éruption.