Friday: The Day the East Coast Nearly Died?

imageI am not often compelled to take time out to post additional material than other at our scheduled times.  However, this came in this afternoon from the European Seismographic agency and it reports a magnitude 5.3 quake less than 30-miles from the Island of La Palma in the Canary Islands.  10 km deep, which is not very  and it could have been a small undersea slide.

Whether a large earthquake in the vicinity of the Island could trigger an undersea landslide, which has the potential (by some researchers) to send a mega tsunami washing westward, where in 6-8 hours time it would send large waves into the US East Coast, destroying everything within a few hundred feet of sea level, is presently debated.

On the one hand, there are articles which seem to offer comfort to people who are not interested in being severely shaken and then drenched in a global coastal impacting event, such as the hypothecated undersea landslide.

While there is a fair bit of debunking done in the Wikipedia entry (Tsunami scenarios, here), there is also some damn serious science that says, in so many words, don’t be quite so sure.

imageimageAnd, as if to put a finer point on it, there is a fine paper worth your time to at least glance through located here and titled : Volcano collapse-generated mega tsunamis: Fact or Fiction?

I specifically would refer you to two maps to consider when you weigh out how close today’s quake may have been to setting off something unimaginable to some.

The first map is the one found in the reference section of the McGuire, Day, Kilburn, and Ward paper.  The second one is a snip from Microsoft Streets and Trips 2013 with that green [1] in the lower left being the approximate epicenter of today’s shaker in the Canaries.

The original paper by Ward and Day “Cumbre Vieja Volcano – Potential collapse and tsunami at La Palma, Canary Islands” [2001] is available online here.

More recently, a 2011 paper “Numerical Simulation of Tsunami Generation by the Potential Flank Collapse of the Cumbre Vieja Volcano”  confirms much of what was hypothecated by Ward and Day a decade early.  But read their conclusions which seem to (slightly) moderate the original Ward & Day outlook.

So, is this the day the East Coast almost went away?  If you’re a skeptic you’ll be loudly protesting and not that an Atlantic mega tsunami is only theoretical while the Pacific has a long history of events like the Molokai run outs.

Like it says in the Book of Eastwood, “Are you feeling lucky, today, punk?” 

Today, we certainly were.