As the world continues to warm and ice trapped in glaciers melt, a lot of stones and mountains rocks beneath them stand to be exposed. With nothing to hold them in place, the rocks might undergo landslides at varying degrees of speed until the unstable mountain slopes fail and generate tsunamis. Scientists have found such an unstable slope near Barry Glacier in Alaska, the United States that stands the chance of failing and causing a mega tsunami bringing damage and destruction on a massive scale. According to the experts, the catastrophe can come within the next 12 months or in the coming 20 years.
The group of environment scientists had written an open letter in May this year addressed to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR). The note explained the extent of the threat and the steps the local authorities must take as precautions.
“We, a group of scientists with expertise in climate change, landslides, and tsunami hazards, have identified an unstable mountain slope above the toe of Barry Glacier in Barry Arm, 60 miles east of Anchorage, that has the potential to fail and generate a tsunami,” they wrote. This tsunami could impact areas frequented by tourists, fishing vessels, and hunters (potentially hundreds of people at one time).”
The Coxe Glacier as seen from the Prince William Sound out of Whittier, Alaska in July 2008. Image: Wikimedia Commons
They said it was possible for this landslide-generated tsunami to happen within the next year, and likely within two decades. To comment upon the impact the tsunami might leave, the team cited examples of landslide-induced tsunamis in the past in Alaska and Greenland. They talked about the incident in Taan Fiord in Alaska, where a landslide that had begun moving slowly decades ago had suddenly failed in October 2015. The resulting tsunami had caused elevations of 633 feet near the landslide and 35 feet high elevations in locations that were about 25 km away.
Another example cited an incident in Greenland that caused destruction 20 miles away and it is more distressing as the present landslide in Barry Arm is much bigger than the earlier ones. Scientists are worried that this landslide might pose a threat to the entire Prince William Sound region.
They have listed the steps they have taken to properly monitor the landslide and possibly develop a way of detecting landslide-induced tsunami like it is possible to detect earthquake-caused tsunamis.
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Tsunami, Megatsunami, Alaska, Landslide, Glacier, 1958 Lituya Bay, Alaska earthquake and megatsunami, Prince William Sound, Ice
World news – US – Landslide in Alaska could lead to ‘mega-tsunami’ within a year, warn scientists- Technology News, Firstpost