Moving mountain brings end of the world - sooner or later
Monday 17 February 1997
The tsunami wave would travel across the Pacific Ocean as fast as a passenger jet, yet would be barely noticeable until it approached the shoreline. Then it would devastate areas up to 300 metres above sea level, killing people and causing huge amounts of damage to buildings.
"The question is, can we forecast when it will happen? And the answer is, at present, no," said Dr Paul Segall, a geophysicist at Stanford University, California at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference here.
But measurements taken by radar on board orbiting satellites have shown that on the south flank of the undersea Kilauea volcano, off Hawaii, there is a huge block 20 kilometres by 10km by 9km, which is moving at seven centimetres per year, forced along by lava flowing underneath it.
While that might not sound much, it creates the possibility of a "megaslump" - as the block crashes from one position to another, rather than sliding gently. That would cause an undersea earthquake equivalent in magnitude to 7 or 8 on the Richter Scale - which would prove devastating on land. Thousands of tonnes of water would be shocked into motion, and would head west across the Pacific. The tsunami would take 15 hours to arrive in Japan, where the effects would be dramatic, and it could take years for the country to recover.
While the technology exists to monitor the movement of the underwater block, there is still no way to predict whether the move - if and when it comes - will be sudden, prompting a "megaslump", or slower, like an underwater landslide. The latter would cause little damage.
One problem might be the public's reaction. In 1960, a tsunami hit Hilo in Hawaii: when the public was warned about it, many headed down to the beach to see it come in. Sixty people were killed.
Raindrops, bees and bacteria should have a price on their heads - and it would run into thousands of millions of pounds worldwide, American scientists said yesterday. According to new studies, the natural world provides humans with a pounds 20 trillion "service economy" which never shuts down or takes a holiday, yet we think is free. But we should put a price on it before we destroy it, said Gretchen Daily, of the biological sciences department at Stanford University, California.
- 1 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for beauty pageant
- 2 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 3 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 4 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 5 Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
West poised to join forces with Assad in face of Islamic State
Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...
£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...
£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...