For almost a week, the world has watched in horror as Japan has dealt with the effects of both a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, and a large tsunami that struck shortly afterward.A tsunami can occur in any large body of water. That leaves the question: could one happen here?Dr. Alexander Gates serves as the chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rutgers-Newark, and is co-author of the book, "Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes New Edition." He explains that tsunamis can form almost anywhere under the right circumstances.
Giant wave could threaten US
The wave would sweep up to 20 km inland
in the Atlantic could unleash a giant wave of water that would swamp the Caribbean and much of the eastern seaboard of the United States, a scientist has claimed.
Dr Simon Day, of the Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre at University College London, UK, believes one flank of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries archipelago, is unstable and could plunge into the ocean.
The wall of water would weaken as it crossed the ocean, but would still be 40-50 metres (130-160 feet) high by the time it hit land. The surge would create havoc in North America as much as 20 kilometres (12 miles) inland.
"This event would be so huge that it would affect not only the people on the island but people way over on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean - people who've never heard of La Palma."
His latest work on the subject has been published in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research.
On the back of this work, the Geological Society of London is to write to the UK science minister, Lord Sainsbury, to make him aware of the dangers posed by so-called mega-tsunami in the Atlantic.
should take the issue as seriously as the has the threat from asteroid strikes.
have known of the destructive power of tsunami - huge tidal waves - for many centuries. As recently as 1998, over 2,000 people were killed by a large wave hitting the coast of Papua New Guinea.
This was caused by an offshore earthquake. But researchers believe far bigger phenomena can be created by giant landslides.
The largest wave in recorded history, witnessed in Alaska in 1958, was caused by the collapse of a towering cliff at Letuya Bay. The resulting wave was higher than any skyscraper on Earth and gouged out soil and trees to a height of 500 metres (1,640) feet) above sea level.
Geological studies have found evidence of giant landslides elsewhere in the world such as Hawaii, the Cape Verde Islands and Réunion in the Indian Ocean.
Dr Day has identified dozens of volcanic vents in the Cumbre Vieja volcano that have been formed by successive eruptions over the past 100,000 years.
He thinks water trapped between dykes of impermeable rock could create pressures that eventually lead to the western flank of the mountain falling away during some future eruption.
Dr Simon Day: This would be a huge event
"If the Cumbre Vieja were to collapse as one single block, it would lead to a giant mega-tsunami with an initial wave height of 650 metres.
It would have a wavelength of 30 to 40 kilometres (18 to 25 miles) travelling westwards across the Atlantic at speeds up to 720 km/h (450 mph) towards America."
researchers caution that such a catastrophe may not occur for many decades.
"There could be five more summit eruptions of the Cumbre Vieja before the western flank collapses,"
Professor Bill McGuire, of the Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre.
"There could be 10 or there could be 20 - we simply don't know. But put it this way: if I was living in Miami or New York and I heard that the Cumbre Vieja was erupting, I would keep a very close eye on the news."
Three Hundred Thousand people
The Death toll has surpassed 297,000
have been killed across southern Asia in massive sea surges triggered by the strongest quake in the world for 40 years. About 1,000 km of the Andaman thrust , or faultline, broke. The 9.0 magnitude quake struck 25km under the sea near Aceh in the north Indonesia island of Sumatra, generating a 5 -10 meter wall of water that sped, at speeds of 500kmh, across thousands of kilometres of sea. The quake struck at 7;59AM, (00.59 a.m GMT) 26th December, with the tsunamis reaching as far as Africa. This disaster came only days after another massive (8.1) quake occurred 400km offshore of the Macquarie Islands Antarctica, on the 24th. In that quake, there were no tsunamis, or large tidal waves, because the quake moved horizontally rather than vertically. for more videos
5 million people were directly affected.
A strong earthquake,
Cumbre Vieja (Spanish: Old Summit) is an active volcanic ridge on the volcanic ocean island of Isla de La Palma in the Canary Islands.This ridge trends in an approximate north-south direction and covers the southern third of the island. It is lined by several volcanic craters.