January 03, 2005

what you don't know about La Palma might kill you?

Space Shuttle photo STS074-085-092 taken in September 1992 and looking east across La Palma no, not the movie director. it's a volcanic island in the Canaries located about 28.6ºN, 17.9ºW. and it maybe the next deadly GG. what's a GG? a GG is a "global geophysical event". and it's Bad with a capital "B". or it's all a scam to sell a boatload of insurance policies.

the tsunami we experienced here on dec 26th made me vaguely recall a bbc horizon program on mega-tsunami from a few years ago (no, my head isn't just full of spider webs and stuff about coldfusion i18n). some googling refreshed my memory enough that i thought i should blog something about this.

the western flank of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma island is basically being held in place by the natural equivalent of spit and duct tape (friction). if this 10-20 kilometers (yes kilometers) long huge chunk of rock lets loose it will cause a 20-50 meter tsunami that could devastate the coastal areas of North America, Europe and parts of Africa. what could cause that to happen? well a volcanic eruption might do the trick. which is kind of inevitable on that volcanic island. the volcano last erupted in 1949 and then it's whole western side slid some 4 meters closer to the sea. oh my--but read on.

while i certainly hope this is a "chicken little" issue, it has been picked by Time in an on-line time article. it's been slashdotted as well (not that it lends it much credence but it has been noticed by that crowd). then there's the Gwynne Dyer article which has some chilling thoughts on the political angle of these sorts of things (basically the "i'd rather not know" policy). while there has been some research on the island itself by the Benfield Hazard Research Centre at University College, London the research has been called into question as it was funded by insurance companies.

you can read some of the details about this volcano at volcano world. frankly i don't know what to make of this but having seen what happens when nobody's watching, i say better safe than sorry.


At 1/03/2005 4:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting post, although I wouldn't pay any heed to anything you read in Time magazine: They just picked George Bush as the man of the year, after all.

At 1/04/2005 1:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think somebody needs to secure that island asap....to be on the safe side....just imagine a few well placed terror-devices on that faultline....


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