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Post Info TOPIC: Lake Lucerne tsunami, 1601


L

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Scientists study Swiss lake tsunamis

How do you prepare for tsunamis that come only every 1,000 years or so?
This is the issue Swiss geoscientists are wrestling with as they study the country's big lakes.
Some of these water bodies around the Alps have been known to experience huge waves that were driven by sub-surface landslides, which were themselves triggered by earthquakes.
The researchers' work indicates such hazards still exist but the likelihood of future events is very small.

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The first tsunami documented by eyewitnesses transpired in Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. The wave of up to 4 meters caused considerable damage to the city of Lucerne. It was triggered by landslides caused by an earthquake with its epicentre in Unterwalden in central Switzerland.

Ancient Earthquakes at Lake Lucerne

The authors describe their efforts to determine the seismic history of Lucerne, Switzerland, which was badly shaken up in a 1601 earthquake - one that would have registered above 6 on the modern Richter scale. Through the study of the sediments in nearby Lake Lucerne, this team of geologists concludes that at least four other earthquakes also rocked this usually tranquil locale since the end of the Ice Age. Such "intra-plate earthquakes" do not take place often, but they can be quite destructive. So it is important to know how frequently they recur. Studying the natural archive found in lake sediments is thus provides an important supplement to historical records of seismic activity in Switzerland.
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