Those of you living within 50 miles or so of the US East Coast may have noticed you’re not dead this morning (true, it’s Monday, but that doesn’t count), and might be wondering why since the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted yesterday, and for years you’ve been hearing that if it did a mega-tsunami would sweep across the Atlantic and hit the US with a 100 foot high wall of water.
BBC did a drama about this a bit over ten years ago, and I worked with them on an accompanying science based program aired afterwards debunking their own drama. The model and study that shows the megastunami causing 100ft plus waves on the US east coast assumes every single parameter is the worst possible. One glaring example – it assumes the entire flank of the volcano would slide off into the ocean as a solid, intact slab at just the perfect speed to cause the maximum wave. But of course an explosion big enough to do that would fragment it into a billion pieces. That’s not to say that it can’t cause significant tsunami under the right circumstances, but almost certainly not a megastunami. There are lots of scientific papers and studies out there that show it just can’t happen the way the scare mongers are saying. But, of course, that doesn’t stop the media from hyping it and scaring people who don’t have time to read the journals and see that for every paper saying it’s a big risk (mostly from the same two guys) there are ten saying “how about no.”