800 Foot Megatsunami Could Happen Again And Wipe Out Mankind, Scientists Claim

Posted: Oct 3 2015, 12:58am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 4 2015, 7:25pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


800 Feet Megatsunami Could Happen Again and Wipe Out Mankind, Scientists Claim
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Researchers have found the evidence of a 73,000 year old megatsunami on the west coast of Africa. The tsunami with 800 foot high waves was caused by a volcano collapse. Something like that could happen again, a study suggests.

Scientists have found that tens of thousands of years ago an erupting volcano trigged a megatsunami with waves up to 800 feet high.

The Fogo volcano, one of the world’s largest and most active volcanoes, collapsed in Cape Verde Island off the West Coast of Africa around 73,000 years ago. The sudden collapse generated waves of water as high as 800 feet and wiped off a neighboring island 30 miles away. In modern times, the biggest tsunami was 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami with 100 feet waves affecting many countries of the Southeast Asian region.

The question rises whether that kind of megatsunami with around 1,000 feet high wave can ever happen again? Scientists suggest that it is a rarity but cannot be ignored altogether.

(Collapses) probably don't happen very often," said Ricardo Ramalho, postdoctoral associate at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and lead author of the study. "But we need to take this into account when we think about the hazard potential of these kinds of volcanic features."

Fogo volcano is 9,300 feet above sea level these days and erupts after every 20 years. Santiago Island, where the ancient megatsunami apparently hit, is now a home to some 250,000 people.

Researchers have found unusual giant boulders in island laid as far as 2,000 feet away from the shoreline. Some of them weigh up to 770 tons. The only logical explanation scientists can give on how these marine-type rocks got there is that “a gigantic wave must had ripped them from the shoreline and loft them up.” They calculated the size of the wave which was required to produce such force.

The analysis centered around 73,000 years ago and provides the link between the collapse and impact, which can be made only if you have both dates. There is no doubt the volcanic flanks poses hazard since at least eight smaller collapses have noticed in Alaska, Japan and elsewhere in the last several hundred years, and some have generated deadly tsunamis.

“Our point is that flank collapses can happen extremely fast and catastrophically, and therefore are capable of triggering giant tsunamis.”

Tsunami expert Bill McGuire, a professor emeritus at University College London also supports the notion, saying that such megatsunamis probably come only once every 10,000 years. But “the scale of such events, as the Fogo study testifies, and their potentially devastating impact, makes them a clear and serious hazard in ocean basins that host active volcanoes."

Researchers suggest that study should not be taken as a warning sign or an indicator for another big collapse about to happen in some part of the world. “It doesn't mean every collapse happens catastrophically," said Ramalho. "But it's maybe not as rare as we thought."

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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