Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tsunami


As we watch the horrifying footage from Japan and elsewhere, hearts go out to the friends whose lives are affected. Previously this blog has warned of the dangers of tsunamis, which could touch every place from Hawaii to New York. The earthquake, and Earth's core heat, could be products of a tiny Black Hole in the Earth.

Above is a favourite place, Kelakekua Bay on the Big Island. It was the site of great tragedy when Captain Cook's blood was spilled in 1779. Today it has some of the best snorkelling reefs on the island. Spinner dolphins are often seen in the bay too. The bay was created in an enormous tsunami.

The steep cliff on the far side of the bay marks where a 30-km chunk of the shoreline broke free 120,000 years ago and plunged into the sea. The resulting tsunami completely submerged the island of Kaho'olawe, 1427 feet high! The wave continued and nearly inundated the island of Lanai. Today on Lanai you can still find chunks of coral deposited at the 1000-foot level.

Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands looks peaceful now. Undersea surveys have found a 400 cubic km landslide, the debris of a prehistoric eruption. Previous activity has caused the Western slope to come loose, creating a North-South fracture. Another large eruption would cause 500 cubic kilometres of mountain to crash into the sea. Dr. Simon Day and Steven Ward have modelled what would happen next.

The initial impact would create a water dome 900 meters high, collapsing and spreading like a stone in a giant pond. A massive tsunami would race across the Atlantic at nearly 800 km/hr. The coast of Morocco would be struck by waves 100 meters high. Waves up to 50 meters from crest to trough would strike the US East Coast. Water would inundate coasts from Britain to Brazil.

The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 produced waves up to 30 m high. Krakatoa's eruption in 1883 created 6 m waves, killing 30,000 people. The damage in New York City alone would make 9/11 look like a college prank. The Northeastern US is also vulnerable to earthquakes. As recently as 1925 a magnitude 7 quake struck the region. Unlike California or Hawaii, New York has never prepared for a major earthquake.

Before Einstein and Planck some scientists believed they knew everything about physics. Even today some will tell you that they have inventoried everything in the Universe. It is the height of folly to think we know everything in nature. Earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis could be the hiccoughs of a Black Hole less than a millimetre across. The Universe has power and mystery far beyond human understanding.

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