Ancient Tsunami Was Nearly As Tall As The Eiffel Tower, Scientists Say

When surfers have taken on nearly 100-foot-tall waves, they’ve faced the challenge of a lifetime. But those waves are pipsqueaks compared to an ancient mega-tsunami that scientists say was almost as tall as the Eiffel Tower.

An international team of scientists has found evidence that an approximately 800-foot-tall tsunami was generated when the eastern slope of the Cape Verde islands’ Fogo volcano, off the coast of West Africa, collapsed into the sea some 73,000 years ago.

The colossal wave traveled more than 30 miles from Fogo to the nearby island of Santiago, where it pushed around huge boulders like pebbles, according to research published Friday in the journal Science Advances.

And, theoretically, such an event could happen again.

“This is something that may happen in any volcano that is tall, steep, unstable and active enough to be prone to a collapse,” Dr. Ricardo Ramalho, an adjunct scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, and lead author of the research, told The Huffington Post in an email.

“Volcanic flank collapses and their ensuing mega-tsunamis — like the one of Fogo — are what we scientists call ‘very low frequency, very high impact events,'” he said. “Due to their very low frequency, we estimate that the probability for them to happen again is very small, but they may and will happen nevertheless.”

The researchers found evidence for the ancient mega-tsunami when they noticed delivery truck-sized boulders of basalt and limestone sitting in Santiago Island’s highlands. The boulders were as much as 2,000 feet inland but showed signs of having originated from cliff faces below where they were discovered, suggesting they had been moved by a tsunami.

The researchers calculated the energy it would take to move the boulders in order to estimate the size of —> Read More