If you thought only blood supermoons and nuclear warfare were the probable ways that earth was going to meet its apocalypse, think again. A recent study conducted by scientists off the west coast of Africa has shown that a collapsing volcano sparked a mega-tsunami about 73,000 years ago that was so huge that it produced waves up to 1,000 feet high, flattening pretty much each and every the island off the west coast of Africa in a giant deluge
According to Financial Express, the mega-tsunami hit the Cape Verde islands, presently an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands together known as the Republic of Cabo Verde, engulfing faraway islands which were several hundred miles away from the site of the volcano.
What’s even more remarkable, however, is that scientists believe that the mega-tsunami can flood our planet again in the near future!
Nature reports that Ricardo Ramalho, a geophysicist at Columbia University, New York, and a lead researcher of the Capde Verde study, warned that an apocalyptic mega-tsunami may hit earth again, though he conceded that it would be impossible for geologists or meteorologists to predict exactly when and where such a disaster may take place. However, he also mentioned that Hawaii and the western coast of United States may be prone to such a mega-tsunami.
“Most of these fairly young oceanic volcanoes — such as in the Azores and the Canary Islands and Hawaii — are incredibly high and steep, so the potential energy for a collapse to happen again is there. Our point is that flank collapses can happen extremely fast and catastrophically, and therefore are capable of triggering giant tsunamis. They probably don’t happen very often. But we need to take this into account when we think about the hazard potential of these kinds of volcanic features.”
According to reports, a volcanic collapse in Hawaii some 100,000 years ago generated a mega-tsunami that inundated land at elevations higher than 300 meters.
It is worth noting here that the most devastating recent tsunamis, which cannot be considered mega-tsunamis by any standards, like the ones which hit the Indian ocean coasts in 2004 and eastern Japan in 2011, attained maximum heights of around 30 meters. The Indian ocean tsunami alone killed more than 2,30,000 people. However, as the scientists noted, these tsunamis were caused by undersea earthquakes rather than volcanic collapses.
The Cape Verde volcanic mega-tsunami was more than 10 times as powerful than the one which hit India and other South-Asian countries in 2004, according to Times of Malta.
According to the study, the mega-tsunami was triggered by a collapse, which occurred some 73,000 years ago at the Fogo volcano, one of the world’s largest and most active island volcanoes. Now, the Fogo volcano towers 2,829 meters (9,300 feet) above sea level, and erupts about every 20 years, most recently last fall. Santiago Island, one of the islands which was completely submerged as the result of the deluge, is now home to some 250,000 people.
The researchers also pointed that the debris included boulders the size of delivery vans that had been carried up to 609 meters inland and nearly 198 meters above sea level on Santiago Island. The boulders, weighing up to 770 tons, matched marine-type rocks ringing the island’s shores and were not reminiscent volcanic terrain in which they were found. The origin of the debris, however, still remains shrouded in mystery.
We can only hope that a mega-tsunami does not hit earth any time soon, because if it was left to us, we would probably want the earth to end from a blood moon apocalypse or something much more fantastical.
[Photos via Wikipedia and The Daily Mail]