- Around this time of the year many Britons look towards
the Canary Islands for a sunshine break. What most don't know, however,
is that on one of the Canary Islands lies a major global catastrophe in
the making, a natural disaster so big that it could flatten the Atlantic
coastlines of Britain, Europe, North Africa and the United States of America
and cause enormous damage to London and other UK cities. Scattered across
the world,s oceans are a handful of rare geological time-bombs which, once
unleashed, create an extraordinary phenomenon, a gigantic tidal wave, called
a Mega Tsunami. These are able to cross oceans and ravage countries on
the other side of the world. The word Tsunami derives from the Japanese
for harbour wave. They are normally generated by offshore earthquakes,
sub-marine landslides and undersea volcanic activity, and range from barely
perceptible waves to walls of water up to 300 feet high.
- Recently, scientists have realised that the next Mega
Tsunami is likely to begin on one of the Canary Islands, off the coast
of North Africa, where a wall of water will one day race across the entire
Atlantic Ocean at the speed of a jet airliner to devastate the east coast
of the United States, the Caribbean and Brazil.
- Dr Simon Day, who works at the Benfield Greig Hazards
Research Centre, University College London*, says that one flank of the
Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, is unstable
and could plunge into the ocean during the volcano's next eruption.
- Dr. Day says: "If the volcano collapsed in one block
of almost 20 cubic kilometres of rock, weighing 500 billion tonnes - twice
the size of the Isle of Wight - it would fall into water almost 4 miles
deep and create an undersea wave 2000 feet tall. Within five minutes of
the landslide, a dome of water about a mile high would form and then collapse,
before the Mega Tsunami fanned out in every direction, travelling at speeds
of up to 500 mph. A 330ft wave would strike the western Sahara in less
than an hour."
- Europe would be protected from the fiercest force by
the position of the other Canary Islands, but the tsunami would still bring
33ft waves to Lisbon and La Coruña within three hours.
- After six hours it would reach Britain, where waves up
to 40 ft high would hit southwest England at 500 miles per hour, travel
a mile inland and obliterate almost everything in its path. Even Britain's
more sheltered shores, in the North Sea and Irish Sea, will be struck by
smaller but still significant swells, causing widespread flooding in major
- "We need better models to see what the precise effects
on Britain will be." Dr. Day said. However, it is likely that London
could suffer sever inundation as the Thames Barrier's ability to cope with
such a dramatic rise in water levels exceeds its design specifications.
- "The Thames estuary is already subject to major
tidal surges," says Dr. Day, "and the Mega Tsunami could raise
water levels by as much as 20 feet, with the surge travelling up the river
at some 200 miles per hour." Devastation along both banks of the Thames
would be huge, with many parts of the City and areas along both the north
and south banks of the river as far as Putney Bridge and beyond experiencing
severe damage. The effects on the London underground are hard to imagine,
but the entire network would become flooded and the consequent loss of
life would be immense."
- Indeed, parts of London would be uninhabitable for perhaps
months and the cost of repairing and rebuilding the damage would be astronomical.
Imagine, if you will, what effects such a massive inundation would have
on some of our major public buildings near the Thames; The Houses of Parliament,
Westminster Abbey, Canary Wharf, Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London,
and the South Bank are only a few of the many London landmarks that would
be severely damaged, as indeed would the entire City of London.
- However, the destruction in the United Kingdom will be
as nothing compared to the devastation reeked on the eastern seaboard of
the United States. Dr. Day claims that the Mega Tsunami will generate a
wave that will be inconceivably catastrophic. He says: "It will surge
across the Atlantic at 500 miles per hour in less than seven hours, engulfing
the whole US east coast with a wave almost two hundred feet high "
higher than Nelson,s Column " sweeping away everything in its path
up to 20 miles inland. Boston would be hit first, followed by New York,
then all the way down the coast to Miami, the Caribbean and Brazil."
Millions would be killed, and as Dr. Day explains: "It's not a question
of "if" Cumbre Vieja collapses, it's simply a question of "when".
- Copyright Ian Gurney 2004. Ian Gurney is a journalist,
broadcaster and author of the bestseller "The Cassandra Prophecy"
published by International Global Press. ISBN 0953581314.