PROSPECTS OF A MEGA TSUNAMI HITTING
The killer tsunami which was triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean last Sunday, created an enormous devastation in the Southeast Asia, covering eleven countries with over 135,000 victims and the number is still rising. Many believe it will exceed 150,000 when all the bodies are recovered. Alice and I had spent some time a couple of years ago in Thailand, visiting its pristine beaches in the south shore which are usually crowded this time of the year with tourists from England, Germany, Holland and the Scandinavian countries, escaping the harsh winter conditions in their respective countries. Unfortunately, a great number of these tourists have vanished.
What are the probabilities of a similar gigantic tsunami hitting our shore lines? Although chances are slim, nevertheless we are vulnerable both on the east coast and especially on the west coast. We seem to have the most organized warning system in the Pacific because that is the most seismically active region of the country, according to Charles McCreery, director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center headquartered in Hawaii. In the United States, tsunami research, modeling and warning programs are limited to the Pacific coast, Hawaii and Alaska. Countries bordering the Indian Ocean have virtually no early-detection warning system.
Although we are well organized in the Pacific, that does not mean we are safe in the Atlantic. In 1755, a tsunami triggered by an earthquake in the Atlantic Ocean obliterated Lisbon, Portugal and surrounding areas, killing over 60,000 people. One scary possibility for the east coast is the catastrophic collapse of an island volcano on one of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, according to geophysicist Steven Ward of the University of California - Santa Cruz. Incidentally, Alice and I spent a week last summer in the Canary Islands. Another tourist spot attracting tourists especially from England and Germany. The islands belong to Spain and the people are very friendly to Americans.
If such a catastrophic collapse occurs, it will create a mega tsunami in the form of a dome, travelling in excess of 600 miles an hour, hitting the east coast of the United States within hours. The devastation in property and human lives will be immense from Miami, Florida to Bangor, Maine.
Let us pray that none of us will ever experience the horror of a tsunami.
James C. Stathis