Gulf Tsunami

Steve's picture

Not likely that you’ve ever thought much about Gulf of Mexico tsunami. Seeing that most tsunami birth from large earthquakes, and that the Gulf hosts only smallish ones, your lack of concern is justified. Still, things other than quakes cause tsunami -- submarine landslides for one.

Like many places along the world’s continental slope, the sea floor in the Gulf of Mexico reveals many scars of paleo-landslides. Geologists believe that most of these slips happened long past, maybe 5 or 10 thousand years ago when sea level was about 10 meters lower.

Rightly so, for most everyone, such landslides are ancient history and warrant no more than academic interest. There are however, certain groups of people for which ancient history still carries massive weight.



A couple years ago I was asked to consider ramifications of a Gulf of Mexico tsunami on a nuclear power plant that was being proposed in Florida. You know that to get a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Agency just to begin constructing such a plant, builders must document a plan for every consequence imaginable.  Action plans cover obvious hazards such floods, hurricanes, seiches and landslides down to assessments of secondary impacts on fish, birds, grass and trees. Surprisingly, the Agency had given the green light to all other aspects of the plant except the possibility of a one in many thousand year Gulf Tsunami. (Normally Gulf Tsunami would have hardly raised a glance, but the 2011 Japan earthquake had just brought the “T” word fresh to everyone’s mind.) For my small role, I generated several simulations of waves produced by those old Gulf of Mexico landslides and offered my opinion of their reaching the proposed site.

Fact is, I don’t really know if the plant was ever licensed or if market forces caused the builders to postpone or cancel the project. In any case, ancient history certainly is not ancient to everyone.

Steven N. Ward   Santa Cruz


azariakirkland's picture

Thank you very much Steve for sharing about the Gulf Tsunami at Looks like that really caused a lot of troubles in the area. I really hope this issue ends soon

micheal hatrick's picture

Thank you Steve for sharing about the Gulf Tsunami and the appliance repair denver. This video was really thrilling and exciting. The gulf of Mexico is really huge, wow.

lionel's picture

It looks really scary. It is for the first time I am getting to know that landslides even can cause large scale earth quakes. I have watched the video and it is so dangerous to see that. Geologists are still going on with the researches regarding this. london to paris tour

Kristin Legros's picture

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