STATES CHRONICLE – There is a 9% chance for a devastating tsunami to hit Hawaii and wipe half of it off the face of the Earth. Its likelihood to happen is somewhere around fifty years from now.
The tsunami would be caused by a magnitude of 9+ earthquake in the Aleutian Islands.
Scientists at the University of Hawaii at Manoa with the help of a new computer model have predicted the occurrence of a mega-earthquake, estimating damages of approximately $40 billion that will affect almost half a million of people.
These findings were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth.
The earthquake would happen because of a dramatic slip in the subduction zone where the Aleutian Islands sit. This phenomenon would be so powerful that it would create a devastating tsunami heading towards the Hawaii Island.
The Earth has a crust composed of numerous rocky plates that can slip. When these slips occur, the place where they “fall” is called a subduction zone. One of these “available spots” happens to be in the Aleutian Islands.
Lead author geophysicist Rhett Butler and co-authors Neil Frazer at the UHM School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, along with William Templeton, Portland State University have created a numerical computer model based on tectonics and Bayesian techniques to determine the 9% rate of the devastating tsunami in Hawaii.
The researchers have also used recorded seismic/tsunami evidence from Hawaii’s five biggest earthquakes since the year 1900 to validate the new model. Buttler says these earthquakes represent “half of the seismic energy that has been released globally since 1900.”
They also took in consideration past tsunamis to further refine the model’s estimates.
Almost to their surprise, the model fits very well “the paleotsunami data” and they were able to even annualize the risk of occurrence.
Thus, an earthquake of a magnitude of 9 has a 9 ± 3 percent probability to hit the Aleutian Islands in the next 50 years and cause a $40 billion loss in damages.
The team wants to extend their analysis and use this model to smaller earthquakes in the Pacific. They’re interested in 7-8 magnitude earthquakes.
A few weeks ago at the National Earthquake Conference, director of Southern California Earthquake Data Center, Thomas Jordan announced that the San Andreas plate in Southern California is “locked, loaded and ready to go.”
The threat of a devastating tsunami might come from lots of different places around the globe, much sooner than the 50 years predicted for Hawaii.
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