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MASSIVE TSUNAMI SWEEPS ATLANTIC COAST IN ASTEROID IMPACT SCENARIO (SURF'S UP)
UC Santa Cruz Press Release ^ | May 27, 2003 | UC Santa Cruz Press Release

Posted on 05/29/2003 9:57:14 AM PDT by Mike Darancette

Massive tsunami sweeps Atlantic Coast in asteroid impact scenario for March 16, 2880

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SANTA CRUZ, CA--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: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 1950da; asteriod; atlantis; bfralert; catastrophism; godsgravesglyphs; tsunami
Have at it.
1 posted on 05/29/2003 9:57:14 AM PDT by Mike Darancette
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To: Mike Darancette
March 16, 2880... I think I'll call in sick that day so I can watch it all happen on TV.
2 posted on 05/29/2003 10:00:02 AM PDT by So Cal Rocket (Free Miguel and Priscilla!)
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To: Mike Darancette
Massive tsunami sweeps Atlantic Coast in asteroid impact scenario for March 16, 2880

Oh man. That's the week I was planning on going to Daytona Beach.

3 posted on 05/29/2003 10:00:09 AM PDT by ladtx ("...the very obsession of your public service must be Duty, Honor, Country." D. MacArthur)
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To: Mike Darancette
Posted here. First "women and minorities hit hardest" post was #19.
4 posted on 05/29/2003 10:00:31 AM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: Mike Darancette
But this could happen sooner if Hilliary! goes swimming....
5 posted on 05/29/2003 10:00:56 AM PDT by mewzilla
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To: Mike Darancette
Tsunami Hits!
Minority Women, Children Hurt Most!
Global Warming, El Nino Worsen as result!!!
Bush II, Reagan Policies Faulted
6 posted on 05/29/2003 10:02:04 AM PDT by theDentist (So. This is Virginia.... where are all the virgins?)
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To: Mike Darancette
Isn't a massive tsunami going to flood the east coast much earlier due to some island which is currently hanging by a thread and will soon drop into the sea? (I saw this on TV but do not remember any details other than we're all gonna DIE!)
7 posted on 05/29/2003 10:02:20 AM PDT by rockinonritalin
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To: Larry Lucido
And the first comment making fun of the name Erik Asphaug was in post #18.
8 posted on 05/29/2003 10:02:24 AM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: Mike Darancette
A really good book (fiction of course) about a catastrophic impact is Lucifer's Hammer. Read it 5 or 6 times. It starts with telescope discovery and follows through to one year after impact.
9 posted on 05/29/2003 10:03:11 AM PDT by patriotUSA
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To: Mike Darancette
Surf's up, dude!
10 posted on 05/29/2003 10:03:25 AM PDT by governsleastgovernsbest
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To: theDentist
Minority Women, Children Hurt Most!

Hmm, only 6 posts. You guys are quicker today!

11 posted on 05/29/2003 10:04:04 AM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: Mike Darancette

12 posted on 05/29/2003 10:06:02 AM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist
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To: rockinonritalin
Part of the Hawaii edge,,I was there and they told me that. Then I went home and will no longer go there. It is like huge cliffs on the coast hanging off.
13 posted on 05/29/2003 10:06:43 AM PDT by cajungirl (no)
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To: Mike Darancette
If I have my world history straight, a small asteroid landed in the Sea of Japan in the late 1880s, sending waves crashing onto Japan (Wished it happened in the 1940s)
14 posted on 05/29/2003 10:09:33 AM PDT by ServesURight (FReecerely Yours,)
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To: cajungirl
Found it! Its the Canary Islands off the coast of North Africa and its a mega-tsunami! Run for your lives!
15 posted on 05/29/2003 10:12:26 AM PDT by rockinonritalin
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To: Mike Darancette
This is all covered spectacularly well in the first third of the Larry Niven / Jerry Pournelle book Lucifer's Hammer. They describe the effects of a comet striking the Earth, primarily a mid Pacific strike, but calved off pieces strike like Shoemaker-Levy 9 did on Jupiter. They have a very effective scene on a pre-strike talk show with two scientists trying to come up with analogies to get across the energies involved. They finally settle on a hot fudge sundae to represent the comet. A cubic mile of hot fudge sundae, moving at cometary speeds. Suffice to say that it is an impressive analogy, and fun to read.

They have one long scene with a surfer who figures out what's happened when the water start's to pull back from the shore off of Los Angeles. He quickly pushes out as far and as fast as he can, bascially out stripping nearly everyone else on the ocean. Finally he waits on the Tusnami and rides it in. Hundreds' of feet high and he's riding it in. His last, glorious ride. He actually begind to think he'll survive, even after riding it perhaps a half mile inland. Unfortunately there's this apartment building tower.... swat!

The rest of the book is "now what the hell do we do?" Not all politically correct, particlarly not 20 plus years later, but one of the great reads. Both Willis' Armageddon and Morgan Freeman's Deep Impact mention Lucifer's Hammer in passing, acknowledging their obvious debt to how well Niven and Pournelle did in covering and imagining the topic.

16 posted on 05/29/2003 10:13:33 AM PDT by Phsstpok
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To: patriotUSA
Niven and Pournelle. The best.
17 posted on 05/29/2003 10:17:21 AM PDT by CaptRon
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To: Mike Darancette
Frightening thought!


18 posted on 05/29/2003 10:18:25 AM PDT by ThomasMore
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To: Mike Darancette
My appointment book says that I will be on the West Coast on March 16, 2880.

But just I case I will bring a surf board.
19 posted on 05/29/2003 10:23:09 AM PDT by ido_now
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To: Mike Darancette
Large asteroids would be good targets for multiple thermonuclear devices. Prepare the targeting regimen, boys. We may have to go nuclear!
20 posted on 05/29/2003 10:26:26 AM PDT by Uncle Miltie (Wheat is Murder! (Tilling slaughters worms.....))
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To: ido_now
Im hoping to take that vacation to Jupiter that week :))
21 posted on 05/29/2003 10:26:52 AM PDT by BossLady
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To: Mike Darancette
Of course by 2880 the entire earth's population and all the spotted owls will have been killed off by global warming/cooling and/or overpopulation and/or Repubican policies of the Bush/Reagan years and/or burning fossil fuels/using nuclear energy/driving SUV in the 21st century etc.
22 posted on 05/29/2003 10:32:24 AM PDT by The Great RJ
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To: Brad Cloven
Large asteroids would be good targets for multiple thermonuclear devices. Prepare the targeting regimen, boys. We may have to go nuclear!

No kidding. And by 2880 we ought to have a very sophisticated civilization - one that could easily swat such an asteroid into the Sun or even capture it for its metals. Aside from the fact that I don't give much of a damn about what will happen in 877 years, I don't worry much about our GGGGG, etc. grandkids' ability to handle it quite easily.

23 posted on 05/29/2003 10:37:01 AM PDT by Ancesthntr
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To: rockinonritalin
Isn't a massive tsunami going to flood the east coast much earlier due to some island which is currently hanging by a thread and will soon drop into the sea? (I saw this on TV but do not remember any details other than we're all gonna DIE!)

It's the "big island" in Hawaii, it has a crack across the entire exposed(above sea level) portion. It is also one of the tallest mountains on earth if you measure to the sea floor some 18,000 feet down It is also the most active volcano on earth, and is actually flowing a little heavier than in recent times.

The concern is that "when" this chunk falls off, and it will, that it could create a Hugh" tidal wave. It would be directed towards the west coast of the US, not the east.

Right now I'm far more worried about what our elected MORONS are doing to us in Sacramento.

24 posted on 05/29/2003 11:04:28 AM PDT by Mister Baredog ((They wanted to kill 50,000 of us on 9/11, we will never forget!))
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To: Mister Baredog
If Hawaii collapses into the sea, it could be even worse for California than Gray Davis.
25 posted on 05/29/2003 11:17:03 AM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Mike Darancette
There was some wing-ding who was disappointed that a predicted impact in -- what? -- 2030 was retracted. See, the way she saw it, we could have a 30-year party. No more responsibility, no more investing, no more thinking of 'the children' (future generations). Just party down dudes.

--Boris

26 posted on 05/29/2003 12:45:40 PM PDT by boris (Education is always painful; pain is always educational)
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To: Mike Darancette
And it will all be the Republicans fault. You see, by not signing the Kyoto accord, the resulting global warming both melted the polar ice caps vastly increasing the severity of any tsunami, and slowed down the orbit of the earth sufficiently, thereby assuring that it was in the path of the asteroid.
27 posted on 05/29/2003 12:55:07 PM PDT by Fair Paul
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To: Mike Darancette
Woo Hoo!!! Lots of ocean front real estate dirt cheap!!!!
28 posted on 05/29/2003 12:57:23 PM PDT by HamiltonJay
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To: ladtx
"Oh man. That's the week I was planning on going to Daytona Beach."

Yeah, this is really going to put a cramp in my vacation plans as well. On the bright side, if this tidal wave simulation is correct, it looks like the beach will now be somewhere around my front door.
29 posted on 05/29/2003 1:00:29 PM PDT by LanPB01
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To: Mike Darancette
Kalifornia again.

One would think they would worry more about what Gray Davis and the Legislature is going to do to them within the next eight months, instead of what some asteroid might do eight centuries from now!

30 posted on 05/29/2003 1:09:24 PM PDT by Gritty
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Asteroid 1950 DA
http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/1950da/

Asteroid Could Hit in 878 Years
Newsday ^ | 4/4/02 | Paul Recer
Posted on 04/04/2002 10:30:58 AM PST by areafiftyone
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/659642/posts

Giant Asteroid May Strike Earth in 2880
The strike may generate tsunamis up to 122 meters high
Pravda ^ | 06/11/03 | Staff Writer
Posted on 06/16/2003 6:55:33 AM PDT by bedolido
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/929818/posts

Worrying About The Next Big Splash
Casa Grande Dispatch ^ | 11 June 2003 | Alan Levine
Posted on 06/17/2003 8:01:59 AM PDT by Mike Darancette
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/930513/posts


31 posted on 12/30/2004 7:14:29 AM PST by SunkenCiv ("The odds are very much against inclusion, and non-inclusion is unlikely to be meaningful." -seamole)
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Comment #32 Removed by Moderator

Note: this topic is from 05/29/2003. Thanks Mike Darancette.



33 posted on 08/11/2011 2:52:43 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Yes, as a matter of fact, it is that time again -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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This is an old topic.


34 posted on 10/26/2014 2:05:08 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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