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Sweeping Civilization Away In A Single Wave
spacedaily.com ^ | 28 May 03 | staff

Posted on 05/28/2003 5:36:53 PM PDT by RightWhale

Sweeping Civilization Away In A Single Wave

Santa Cruz - May 28, 2003

If an asteroid crashes into the Earth, it is likely to splash down somewhere in the oceans that cover 70 percent of the planet's surface. Huge tsunami waves, spreading out from the impact site like the ripples from a rock tossed into a pond, would inundate heavily populated coastal areas.

A computer simulation of an asteroid impact tsunami developed by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, shows waves as high as 400 feet sweeping onto the Atlantic Coast of the United States. The researchers based their simulation on a real asteroid known to be on course for a close encounter with Earth eight centuries from now. Steven Ward, a researcher at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at UCSC, and Erik Asphaug, an associate professor of Earth sciences, report their findings in the June issue of the Geophysical Journal International.

March 16, 2880, is the day the asteroid known as 1950 DA, a huge rock two-thirds of a mile in diameter, is due to swing so close to Earth it could slam into the Atlantic Ocean at 38,000 miles per hour.

The probability of a direct hit is pretty small, but over the long timescales of Earth's history, asteroids this size and larger have periodically hammered the planet, sometimes with calamitous effects. The so-called K/T impact, for example, ended the age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. "From a geologic perspective, events like this have happened many times in the past. Asteroids the size of 1950 DA have probably struck the Earth about 600 times since the age of the dinosaurs," Ward said.

Ward and Asphaug's study is part of a general effort to conduct a rational assessment of asteroid impact hazards. Asphaug, who organized a NASA-sponsored scientific workshop on asteroids last year, noted that asteroid risks are interesting because the probabilities are so small while the potential consequences are enormous. Furthermore, the laws of orbital mechanics make it possible for scientists to predict an impact if they are able to detect the asteroid in advance.

"It's like knowing the exact time when Mount Shasta will erupt," Asphaug said. "The way to deal with any natural hazard is to improve our knowledge base, so we can turn the kind of human fear that gets played on in the movies into something that we have a handle on." Although the probability of an impact from 1950 DA is only about 0.3 percent, it is the only asteroid yet detected that scientists cannot entirely dismiss as a threat. A team of scientists led by researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported on the probability of 1950 DA crossing paths with the Earth in the April 5, 2002, issue of the journal Science.

"It's a low threat, actually a bit lower than the threat of being hit by an as-yet-undiscovered asteroid in the same size range over the same period of time, but it provided a good representative scenario for us to analyze," Asphaug said.

For the simulation, the researchers chose an impact site consistent with the orientation of the Earth at the time of the predicted encounter: in the Atlantic Ocean about 360 miles from the U.S. coast. Ward summarized the results as follows: The 60,000-megaton blast of the impact vaporizes the asteroid and blows a cavity in the ocean 11 miles across and all the way down to the seafloor, which is about 3 miles deep at that point. The blast even excavates some of the seafloor. Water then rushes back in to fill the cavity, and a ring of waves spreads out in all directions. The impact creates tsunami waves of all frequencies and wavelengths, with a peak wavelength about the same as the diameter of the cavity. Because lower-frequency waves travel faster than waves with higher frequencies, the initial impulse spreads out into a series of waves. "In the movies they show one big wave, but you actually end up with dozens of waves. The first ones to arrive are pretty small, and they gradually increase in height, arriving at intervals of 3 or 4 minutes," Ward said.

The waves propagate all through the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean. The waves decay as they travel, so coastal areas closest to the impact get hit by the largest waves. Two hours after impact, 400-foot waves reach beaches from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras, and by four hours after impact the entire East Coast has experienced waves at least 200 feet high, Ward said. It takes 8 hours for the waves to reach Europe, where they come ashore at heights of about 30 to 50 feet.

Computer simulations not only give scientists a better handle on the potential hazards of asteroid impacts, they can also help researchers interpret the geologic evidence of past events, Ward said. Geologists have found evidence of past asteroid impact tsunamis in the form of inland sediment deposits and disturbed sediment layers in the seafloor that correlate with craters, meteorite fragments, and other impact evidence. An important feature of Ward's simulation is that it enabled him to calculate the speed of the water flows created by the tsunami at the bottom of the ocean--more than 3 feet per second out to distances of several hundred miles from the impact. "That's like a raging river, so as these waves cross the ocean they're going to stir up the seafloor, eroding sediments on the slopes of seamounts, and we may be able to identify more places where this has happened," Ward said.

He added that the waves may also destabilize undersea slopes, causing landslides that could trigger secondary tsunamis. Ward has also done computer simulations of tsunamis generated by submarine landslides. He showed, for example, that the collapse of an unstable volcanic slope in the Canary Islands could send a massive tsunami toward the U.S. East Coast.

A tsunami warning system has been established for the Pacific Ocean involving an international effort to evaluate earthquakes for their potential to generate tsunamis. Ward said that asteroid impact tsunamis could also be incorporated into such a system. "Tsunamis travel fast, but the ocean is very big, so even if a small or moderate-sized asteroid comes out of nowhere you could still have several hours of advance warning before the tsunami reaches land," he said. "We have a pretty good handle on the size of the waves that would be generated if we can estimate the size of the asteroid."

Planetary scientists, meanwhile, are getting a better handle on the risks of asteroid impacts. A NASA-led campaign to detect large asteroids in near-Earth orbits is about half way toward its goal of detecting 90 percent of those larger than 1 kilometer in diameter (the size of 1950 DA) by 2008. "Until we detect all the big ones and can predict their orbits, we could be struck without warning," said Asphaug. "With the ongoing search campaigns, we'll probably be able to sound the 'all clear' by 2030 for 90 percent of the impacts that could trigger a global catastrophe." Rogue comets visiting the inner solar system for the first time, however, may never be detected very long in advance. Smaller asteroids that can still cause major tsunami damage may also go undetected. "Those are risks we may just have to live with," Asphaug said.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Technical
KEYWORDS: 1950da; asteroid; catastrophism; ele; impact; iteotwawki
Must be asteroid hunters budget season again.

we could be struck without warning

Or there could be warning. If it matters.

1 posted on 05/28/2003 5:36:53 PM PDT by RightWhale
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To: RightWhale
Ah, the inevitability of it all..
2 posted on 05/28/2003 5:38:29 PM PDT by doom n gloom (Embrace the horror!!)
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To: RightWhale
Two hours after impact, 400-foot waves reach beaches from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras, and by four hours after impact the entire East Coast has experienced waves at least 200 feet high,

How fast would these dissipate?

3 posted on 05/28/2003 5:42:47 PM PDT by Focault's Pendulum (Living under a rock is looking better every day.)
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To: RightWhale
Cowabunga! Surf's up! Grab your boards to eternity.
4 posted on 05/28/2003 5:42:58 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: doom n gloom
This tsunami prediction was why I sold my place on the Delaware coast and bought on the Chesappeake Bay!
5 posted on 05/28/2003 5:44:10 PM PDT by expatpat
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To: onedoug
There WILL be people, given advance warning, who will go down to the beach to watch it come in.
6 posted on 05/28/2003 5:44:47 PM PDT by Riley
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To: RightWhale
There's a pretty good movie called THE LAST WAVE about this scenario. It's actually mainly about Aussie attorney Richard Chamberlain defending a group of urban Aborigines accused of ritual murder, but it gets into how Chamberlain unwittingly brings about the fulfillment of an ancient doomsday prophecy.
7 posted on 05/28/2003 5:46:36 PM PDT by MikalM
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To: RightWhale
Oh dear me, when did I last rotate the tires on my car? Did I turn the coffie pot off before I left the house? When are shots due for my dog? What... me worry? Was this study funded by the makers of Vallium?
8 posted on 05/28/2003 5:46:49 PM PDT by Blue Screen of Death
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To: RightWhale
They have computers at Uncle Charlie's Summer Camp?
9 posted on 05/28/2003 5:48:51 PM PDT by Redcloak (All work and no FReep makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no FReep make s Jack a dul boy. Allwork an)
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To: expatpat
This tsunami prediction was why I sold my place on the Delaware coast and bought on the Chesappeake Bay!

With 400 footers you're toast in either location. It will wash right over Delmarva and keep going till about Frederick or so.

10 posted on 05/28/2003 5:49:57 PM PDT by John H K
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To: Blue Screen of Death
Well, the war is nearly done for the time being and all we get is mainly political candidates going off about one thing or another these days. And we haven't had a "We're all gonna die!" asteroid thread for a while. Bagdad and Kabul are still dangerous, but not immediately threatening to most. So, probably it is the pharmaceutical companies funding these studies.
11 posted on 05/28/2003 5:50:42 PM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: Riley
There WILL be people, given advance warning, who will go down to the beach to watch it come in.

The question will be for these idiots. Will we awards darwin awards per person, or just one for the entire group.

12 posted on 05/28/2003 5:52:53 PM PDT by Paul C. Jesup
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To: expatpat
The Chesapeake beachfront will be in York County PA if this happens.
13 posted on 05/28/2003 6:02:50 PM PDT by Domestic Church (AMDG...)
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To: RightWhale
I definitely need to mark my calendar.
14 posted on 05/28/2003 6:07:30 PM PDT by Chi-townChief
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To: Bitwhacker; lepton
March 16, 2880, is the day the asteroid known as 1950 DA, a huge rock two-thirds of a mile in diameter, is due to swing so close to Earth it could slam into the Atlantic Ocean at 38,000 miles per hour.

Seems like a good day for a party. Who brings the beer?

/john

15 posted on 05/28/2003 6:15:47 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (I'm just a cook.)
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To: Chi-townChief
I definitely need to mark my calendar.

I'm still trying to figure out whether it's a Tuesday or a Wednesday. They didn't give a time zone for the imact. Zulu? CST, EST, PST? This is why I miss specials on the History channel...

/john

16 posted on 05/28/2003 6:18:39 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (I'm just a cook.)
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To: Riley
There WILL be people, given advance warning, who will go down to the beach to watch it come in.

I'm (if I'm still around in 800 years) going to go up to the beach, well it will be. There is a great spot about 50 miles west of NYC with an elevation of almost 1000 feet above sea level that has a great view of the city that would soon be gone. ;-)

17 posted on 05/28/2003 6:19:40 PM PDT by StriperSniper (Frogs are for gigging)
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To: RightWhale
Erik Asphaug, an associate professor of Earth sciences...

Am I reading this right--the guy's name is Ass Fog?

18 posted on 05/28/2003 6:24:14 PM PDT by randog (Everything works great 'til the current flows.)
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To: RightWhale
A computer simulation of an asteroid impact tsunami developed by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, shows waves as high as 400 feet sweeping onto the Atlantic Coast of the United States

The computer simulation further showed the waves seeking out the poor and homeless, particularly minorities and working single mothers, and sweeping them all out to sea, but not without first flooding inner city voting locations and thus further disenfranchising the most needy.

19 posted on 05/28/2003 6:27:58 PM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: randog
Erik Asphaug, an associate professor of Earth sciences...

Am I reading this right--the guy's name is Ass Fog?

ROFLMAO!!! Great catch!

Asphaug's the name, deep methane deposits are my game!

20 posted on 05/28/2003 6:33:07 PM PDT by StriperSniper (Frogs are for gigging)
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To: JRandomFreeper
Dude, that's a Saturday. We won't even get out of work...

/john

21 posted on 05/28/2003 6:34:09 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (I'm just a cook.)
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To: RightWhale
Chicken Little is right! the Sky is falling!
22 posted on 05/28/2003 6:35:30 PM PDT by Mustard Plaster
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To: RightWhale
Hmm...2880? I think my Y2K stuff will still be good...
23 posted on 05/28/2003 6:36:26 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Larry Lucido
If the New York Times is still around then, that'll be the opening paragraph of the story.
24 posted on 05/28/2003 6:40:59 PM PDT by MikalM
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To: Billthedrill
Hmm...2880? I think my Y2K stuff will still be good...

You know the Spam will keep.

25 posted on 05/28/2003 7:11:17 PM PDT by KDD
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To: Larry Lucido
out the poor and homeless, particularly minorities and working single mothers

In 800 years there won't be any of that, provided the Dems take the White House next time around. There weren't any poor and homeless, particularly minorities and working single mothers under Clinton's admin were there? No, all these poor and homeless, particularly minorities and working single mothers are Bush's fault. Any Dem will do; Al Sharpton is an excellent choice.

26 posted on 05/28/2003 7:13:17 PM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: Billthedrill
my Y2K stuff will still be good

The Spam will be okay unless you got that low-fat, low-sodium nerf-spam.

27 posted on 05/28/2003 7:14:49 PM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: RightWhale
Well after reading the thread about the guy who wants to prove Jesus was gay and the one about the 6th graders and their right to wear thongs, I can’t say I’d be sad to see it coming.

Surf's up!

28 posted on 05/28/2003 7:20:56 PM PDT by meowmeow
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To: RightWhale
"Sweeping Civilization Away In A Single Wave"

I believe civilization is a little more resilient than the new Great Flooders think it is.
29 posted on 05/28/2003 7:21:28 PM PDT by gcruse (Vice is nice, but virtue can hurt you. --Bill Bennett)
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To: RightWhale
"Lucifer's Hammer" by Niven and Pournelle. Read.
30 posted on 05/28/2003 7:22:41 PM PDT by Chairman Fred (@mousiedung.commie)
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To: gcruse
civilization is a little more resilient than the new Great Flooders think it is.

At any rate it covers more land area than just NYC and DC. It even goes inland to WestVirginia Byrd.

31 posted on 05/28/2003 7:24:32 PM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: RightWhale; yall
ENEVER, J. E.

* * Giant Meteor Impact, (ar) Analog Mar 1966
o Analog 6, ed. John W. Campbell, Doubleday 1968
32 posted on 05/28/2003 7:29:06 PM PDT by null and void
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To: onedoug
"Cowabunga! Surf's up! Grab your boards to eternity."

I'd guess that you've read "Lucifer's Hammer."

33 posted on 05/28/2003 7:39:26 PM PDT by davisfh
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To: RightWhale
>>In 800 years there won't be any of that<<

You understate the case. There won't be any of that because, as history then will show, that the glorious Islamic revolution finally overwhelmed the last hope of evil technology and that godless concept of "liberty" around 2210, when the last legal election was held in the last non-islamic land on earth and Ayattolha Bin-laden Muhammed al-Daschelle (PBUH) was elected. This of course was the fulfillment of many years of using the foe's concept of "political correctness" to ensure all attempts to stop us would be arrested BY THE ENEMY HIMSELF! Such a strategy would never have been possible without the sheep called "liberals" who helped us so much and were mercifully slain in their sleep, as opposed to the torture we gave those who crowed about "rights" (such an abhorrent abasement before Allah) on their way to their punishment for their unpure thoughts.

We shall now take our modern prayer rugs, made from the hair of the giant rats we have been able to capture for food and products and watch the bright light in the sky and the water rise under Allah's hand.



34 posted on 05/28/2003 7:43:07 PM PDT by freedumb2003 (Peace through Strength)
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To: Chairman Fred
good book
35 posted on 05/28/2003 7:47:08 PM PDT by wafflehouse (the hell you say!)
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To: Paul C. Jesup
"The question will be for these idiots. Will we awards darwin awards per person, or just one for the entire group."

It will be a unit citation. Probably a "DWC" (Distinguished Wackjob Commendation).
36 posted on 05/28/2003 7:55:08 PM PDT by Strzelec
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To: RightWhale
You're having an impact party and didn't invite me?

Evidence Of Tunguska-Type Impacts Over The Pacific Basin Around The Year 1178 AD

37 posted on 05/28/2003 8:08:38 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Meteor Clue To End Of Middle East Civilisations
38 posted on 05/28/2003 8:22:02 PM PDT by blam
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To: onedoug
You read Lucifers Hammer eh? :)
39 posted on 05/28/2003 8:22:28 PM PDT by Axenolith (<This space for rent>)
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To: davisfh
Whoa, beat me to it!
40 posted on 05/28/2003 8:23:33 PM PDT by Axenolith (<This space for rent>)
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To: RightWhale
25K Year Old Meteror Crater - Odessa, Texas
41 posted on 05/28/2003 8:23:50 PM PDT by blam
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To: John H K
Oh, boy, I screwed up, then. But that means Washington, DC is a goner, too.

Maybe I need to get people on the Eastern Shore to plant really tall trees -- or build hills out of NJ trash.

42 posted on 05/28/2003 8:30:10 PM PDT by expatpat
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To: RightWhale
"He showed, for example, that the collapse of an unstable volcanic slope in the Canary Islands could send a massive tsunami toward the U.S. East Coast."

Saw this on the Discovery Channel, possible 700 foot wave to hit New York.

43 posted on 05/28/2003 8:30:11 PM PDT by Jabba the Nutt
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To: Domestic Church
Well, they say that the Chesapeake is really the estuary of the Susquehanna River, so maybe it will be Harrisburg and not York.
44 posted on 05/28/2003 8:32:31 PM PDT by expatpat
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To: Paul C. Jesup; Riley
There was some show on about tsunamis. One hit Hawaii back in the 1960s. The weather service or NOAA sent a guy down to
watch it come in to a bay that quickly narrowed.

They found some of his notes, but he was watching from a bridge or the like. I can't remember what happened to the
spectacle viewers at the narrow end of the bay.

45 posted on 05/28/2003 8:50:34 PM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: Calvin Locke
Some folks in Crescent City got killed doing that, too.
46 posted on 05/28/2003 10:34:03 PM PDT by Riley
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To: Chairman Fred
"Lucifer's Hammer" by Niven and Pournelle. Read.

Tried to read that. Just about the only SF book I couln't get through. I had previously read N&P's "Footfall". Same plot, similar characters, except it's more interesting because aliens dropped the asteroid on purpose, and Earth must be avenged.

Did get up to the part where the surfer rides the big wave into the side of a skyscraper, however. And I believe some people would try it.

47 posted on 05/29/2003 10:59:29 AM PDT by MalcolmS (Do Not Remove This Tagline Under Penalty Of Law!)
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To: 75thOVI; Alice in Wonderland; AndrewC; Avoiding_Sulla; BenLurkin; Berosus; Brujo; CGVet58; Chani; ..
from 2003.

· Catastrophism ping list · join · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark ·

48 posted on 01/01/2007 8:50:03 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Ahmedumbass and the mullahcracy is doomed. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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Just updating the ping list info, not sending a general distribution.




49 posted on 08/10/2011 7:57:47 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Yes, as a matter of fact, it is that time again -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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