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Anna
Anna, Teacher, writer, biologist
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How many miles inland would a 1000 ft tidal wave cover in the USA?

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If a 1000 foot tidal wave hit the United States, how far inland would it go and how long would land be covered? The tidal wave would start in Asian sector and encompass whole U.S?

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.

Hello,

You pose an interesting question. In fact, there have been waves that big. The largest ever recorded occurred in Alaska in 1958 and it was about 1,700 feet tall. The wave was very destructive locally, but certainly did not encompass the entire continent. tidal waves of such size are not triggered by the same process that triggers normal tsunamis. Normal processes that cause tsunamis do not have the potential to generate waves that tall. Landslides and volcanoes do, and that is how the extra large waves int he earth's history have been triggered. Here's where you can read more about the 1958 wave in Alaska:

http://geology.com/records/biggest-tsunami.shtml

Scientists believe the greatest potential for such megatsunamis exists in tropical islands with major volcanic activity. The largest waves, in theory, could travel up to 16 miles inland. How long the water would remain on the land depends entirely on the altitude and lay of the land. It would of course stay longer in low-lying areas, and retreat at once from higher altitudes. You can read all about this here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megatsunami

Even during the earth's warmest periods, when most of the water contained in glaciers melted, all land was not covered by water. Geologic processes keep the land masses in a constant state of change, and there has never been a time when the land was so flat that water could cover all of what is now the USA. This site has maps and explanations of what land was covered by water, when, and why that happened:

http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/continents/

I hope the above information satisfies your curiosity.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

You didn't answer my question.

There is an island ready to slide into ocean. Wave will hit east coast. I assume when it hits there will be a wrap around effect.

Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.

I would need more information. What is the name of the island, and exactly where is it located?

Thank you.

Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.

OK, I went ahead and did some research. I believe you are referring to the island of LaPalma, one of the Canary Islands. In 1999, a small team of scientists came up with this idea that the island would fall into the ocean and create a mega tsunami. Those scientists have been discredited, and it is believed their hypothesis was nothing more than an attempt to gain fame and fortune. A writer, Ian Gurney, who specializes in writing about potential catastrophes, latched onto this idea and gave it a lot of publicity. If you choose to believe this could happen, it would be estimated that the wave would travel inland 20 miles all along the Atlantic coast. As I stated above, how long the water would remain on the land depends entirely on the altitude and lay of the land. It would of course stay longer in low-lying areas, and retreat at once from higher altitudes. It is believed that insurance companies funded the studies that made these predictions in an effort to sell more insurance. You can read the worst case scenario here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/3963563.stm

Here is another view, where the worst case scenario would cause a wave up to 75 feet tall to reach the USA:

http://www.maine.gov/doc/nrimc/mgs/explore/hazards/tsunami/jan05.htm

However, these scientists believe such an event is so unlikely as to be a near non-existent threat.

Larger teams of scientists have since refuted the studies. Geologists state that even if the entire island fell int he ocean, it would not generate a wave that could reach the United States. But, the island is far from ready to fall into the ocean. If that were to happen, it wouldn't be for about 10,000 years. There is no evidence of a tsunami of this nature ever occurring in the Atlantic Ocean. To read more about the myths and the facts concerning this:

http://www.lapalma-tsunami.com/

If you are concerned, it appears that you would need to live a bit more than 20 miles inland to avoid the worst case scenario. Let me know if you need anything else.

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