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Europe’s extreme threat to the United States

April 9, 2009

We were talking with friends last night about the tsunami which struck south east Asia on December 26th 2004 killing an estimated 150,000 people – the worst natural disaster in modern history. ‘That will be nothing’ chirped up our friend, ‘it will be the collapse of Cumbre Vieja that will leave in its wake a death toll of more than a million people’.

OMG – what is that we thought and having been given a rudimentary explanation by our friend we decided to do some further research when we got home and what follows is a brief synopsis of why it is western Europe which poses the most extreme threat to human life on the east coast of the United States.

Researchers at Benfield Hazard Research Center have identified a potential Atlantic Ocean tsunami threat from large-scale landslides at the Canary Islands. Surface and submarine investigations show a long-term history of mega-landslides at multiple locations in the Canary Island chain.

Recently, scientists have realised that the next Mega Tsunami is likely to begin on one of the Canary Islands, off the coast of North Africa, where a wall of water will one day race across the entire Atlantic Ocean at the speed of a jet airliner to devastate the east coast of the United States, the Caribbean and Brazil.

Dr Simon Day, who works at the Benfield Greig Hazards Research Centre, University College London, says that one flank of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, is unstable and could plunge into the ocean during the volcano’s next eruption.

Dr. Day says: “If the volcano collapsed in one block of almost 20 cubic kilometres of rock, weighing 500 billion tonnes, it would fall into water almost 4 miles deep and create an undersea wave 2000 feet tall. Within five minutes of the landslide, a dome of water about a mile high would form and then collapse, before the Mega Tsunami fanned out in every direction, traveling at speeds of up to 500 mph. A 330ft wave would strike the western Sahara in less than an hour.”

After six hours it would reach Britain, where waves up to 40 ft high would hit southwest England at 500 miles per hour, travel a mile inland and obliterate almost everything in its path.

However, the destruction in the United Kingdom will be as nothing compared to the devastation reeked on the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Dr. Day claims that the Mega Tsunami will generate a wave that will be inconceivably catastrophic.

He says: “It will surge across the Atlantic at 500 miles per hour in less than seven hours, engulfing the whole US east coast with a wave almost two hundred feet high, sweeping away everything in its path up to 20 miles inland.

Boston would be hit first, followed by New York, then all the way down the coast to Miami, the Caribbean and Brazil.” Millions would be killed, and as Dr. Day explains: “It’s not a question of “if” Cumbre Vieja collapses, it’s simply a question of “when”.

Of course you will all want to know the answer to that question – when – we know no more than the boffins but we think you might like to think twice before closing on that beach front property in the Hamptons.

By definition natural disasters are not predictable – reference the terrible loss of lives in the earthquake in Italy this week but as you will see in the video below from the thomgoddard the devastation will have no precedent.

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4 comments

  1. Yet another .. it was on TV so it must be true .. page of garbage.
    Even a rudimentary search would have brought you to the Wikipedia page about this ridiculous story, or the http://www.lapalma-tsunami.com which brings together research from a number of REAL scientists who know what they are talking about.
    Many eminent scientists have shown that
    a. There is not a block waiting to drop, at worst a few bits might crumble off the edge but hardly anyone outside La Palma would notice that.
    b. The calculations that Day uses to guess the size of the wave have been completely ridiculed by, among others, Delft Technical University in Holland (which is one of the best in its field) and Wavs Science experts.
    So, Day lies about the block, then he lies about the wave and then someone repeats the rubbish .. I hope you are proud of youself.

    Simon Day’s TV program has about as much to do with science as Coca Cola has to do with rocket science.
    I can make up unfounded stories as well.
    Just think if Mount St.Helens were to explode again and the bits were to knock the top off Mount Everest and that bit were to roll all the way down to Mumbai getting bigger all the way then it would be 5 km across when it reached the Indian Ocean and it would create a wave big enough to push Australia into the corner pocket, so Zeus would beat Godzilla in the pool game. There, that was fun wasn’t it, and it contains about as much scientific evidence as the Day (et al) tv program.


  2. I live on La Palma. Here’s the rest of the story.

    Practically every other geologist on the planet disagrees with Simon Day. Yup, there’s a fault line on the island, which Simon Day claims is 25 km long and 2 km deep. Everybody else says it’s 4km long, and there’s no evidence that it’s anything more than superficial. They’ve been monitoring it for several years now and seen NO MOVEMENT AT ALL. Presumably one day it will give way, but you’ll only get a tsunami if it all goes at once.

    There’s more, but the really interesting bit is that Simon Day was sponsored by a company which sells tsunami insurance.

    More details at http://lapalmaisland.sheilacrosby.com/2008/02/tsunami-risk.html


    • Thanks Sheila. Yes, I think we should do an opposite article on this now. It is amazing how stories begin and this one was, as we said, a hot topic at dinner the other night down here in the south of France. As you say, probably one day it’ll give way but that could be in ten thousand years!
      thanks for writing in. Just not sure if that insurance will still be valid!


  3. In 2006 scientists at Los Alamos Laboratories published the results from a computer simulation of the effects of the landslide assumed by Ward and Day in Science of Tsunami Hazards. Even with this (unlikely) large landslide the effects on the East coast of the US would be neglible. Here is the link to the article: http://www.sthjournal.org/244/gisler.pdf
    It seems to me that the science they did is credible. I would be interested in comments.



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