Atlantic Tsunamis

I have never really paid attention to the idea of there being a tsunami from the Atlantic Ocean.  There are always reports of them in small under developed countries where the citizens were not prepared and massive damage in sued.  There is never much discussion on the possibility of a tsunami in my neck of the woods.  I live in Maryland but where I am referring to is Ocean City, Md.  This is along the coast and from my own personal experience, I have never seen a wave larger then seven feet tall at the most.  As I read more on the subject I had come to find that Ocean City and the surrounding Atlantic Ocean has a lack of subduction zones.  This is the most common cause of tsunami causing earthquakes.

Evidence has shown that the only subduction zones that are in the Atlantic basin are along the eastern edge of the Caribbean plate and the eastern edge of the Scotia Plate in the South Atlantic.  These are small subduction zones and do not receive much activity, but when there are accounts of tsunamis there is much devastation.  Two accounts have been marked down in history due to the magnitude of the tsunamis.  One tsunami took place off the coast of Puerta Rico in 1918.  It had a magnitude 7.3 earthquake and it took the lives of over 100 people.  Another took place in Lisbon, Portugal and this had a much bigger effect then anyone could have been prepared for.  This tsunami took place in 1755 after an earthquake with a 8.6 reading on the Richter scale fell on the city destroying most of the area.  The earthquake that caused the tsunami continued to reek havoc.  Waves at least 12 meters high hit the coastlines of Spain and Portugal and then smaller waves hit the Caribbean because of it.  Altogether the loss of life was between 60,000 to 100, 000 people. Earthquakes are not the only tsunami causing activators.  Landslides, when large enough, have also been known to cause these terrors.  An earthquake in Newfoundland caused a landslide to develop which then created a tsunami along the coast.  The end result was 28 lives lost.

Even though there are not many tsunamis that occur in the Atlantic Ocean, I feel that more research should be put into developing methods to detect when tsunamis might strike.  This would be especially useful in under developed nations so that the damage might not cause such a major impact on their economic situations.  If this tool could be developed then it might save an excessive amount of money spent on foreign aid to these countries as well.

I thought that this was a very interesting article to say the least.  It has definitely made me more aware of my surroundings and peaked my curiosity on the subject.  I will be interested in seeing where the most tsunamis occur due to the location of the earth’s tectonic plates and the earthquakes caused by their movements.

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