That Atlantic Tsunami (caused by Canary Island Landslide):Should We Prevent It?

The idea of preventing volcanic eruptions made me wonder: should we pre-empt a disastrous tsunami?
There is an island in the Atlantic (part of the Canary Islands) which is unstable-half the island might (one day) slide into the ocean, provoking a major tsunami wave. Calculations show that the wave could wipe out most of the USA east coast cities.
Could we lessen the hazard by provoking smaller landslides, and prevent this disaster?
What if it went wrong-who would have to pay?

Tell the coal companies there is a coal vein there. They can flatten mountains in no time at all.

Here is a link to Wikipedia that includes a few references about the possibility of a tsunami caused by La Palma in the Canary Islands: Megatsunami - Wikipedia

There is dispute about how severe the result would be if a volcanic eruption or series of eruptions caused a landslide there. From my brief reading, it looks like the danger is magnified beyond reality by some. However, if there is a consensus on the danger then doing something about it seems to make sense.

The people on the East Coast would pay - with their lives!

Probably not; but there are reliable methods employing sheeps’ bladders.

If it’s a real danger and we can prevent it, then we should. From the description it should be possible, if expensive. And safe to do; one of the problems with most such “let off some steam by creating smaller events before the big one” schemes is the likelihood of actually triggering the very event you are trying to prevent. That seems unlikely in this case, short of someone deciding to use nukes to do the job which is rather unlikely.

You don’t need a nuke to blow something up but there are countries (like Iran) who pose such a threat.

With their megatsunami generating machines? :rolleyes: This thread isn’t about Iran fearmongering, however fond you are of it.

The point I was trying to make is that unless you tried to move huge amounts of rock and earth at once with a nuke Project Plowshare style, it seems unlikely you’d trigger off a megatsunami yourself. It’s a job that can be accomplished bit by bit.

It is not a function of plowing the island up into the sea. The island in question has a shear cliff lining one side. It’s a loaded gun waiting to go off. THAT is the problem. Otherwise it would be just like 10 thousand other volcanic islands.

sigh Which is the problem that the OP asked could be solved, and I said yes. Because it’s a “loaded gun” that would take an awful lot of force applied at once to set off; such as volcano or a nuke. As opposed to breaking off chunks bit by bit, reducing the unstable area bit by bit.

We differ on the idea that it could be done deliberately and with conventional methods. I think it could easily be done with standard shearing techniques used in mining.

Which…is essentially I’ve been saying.

Wow, it’s almost like you two aren’t in the habit of agreeing with each other :).

As I understand it the shear, which is splitting the island, goes from top to bottom, i.e. from it highest point way above sea-level to the bottom of the ocean and into the earth’s crust. Mother nature has set up a situation that man will not be able to mitigate here. And reducing the shear to ocean level is not an answer. What lies below the water is far great than the element that is above. I doubt there is the technology to remove the half of an island that could slip when it would be necessary to work right down to the ocean floor. Not the answer one would hope for, I’m sure, but I can’t see any practical resolution to the danger this island is causing. Besides, the Spanish might not be happy to throw away a large chunk of their territory.

Actually, I don’t think the underwater portion of the precarious part is nearly as much of a threat. First of all, it’s at least partly supported by buoyancy, which would mitigate its collapse. Second, though, since that’s all underwater anyway, it collapsing wouldn’t result in any volume changes, and thus would result in a much smaller and more local wave.

It’s very unlikely that it would be a major threat for any time in the foreseeable future. It’s basically uniformed fearmongering.

Actually, as I understand it most tsunami are caused by underwater landslides. And they actually move faster and farther underwater than in air.

Yeah, but Just In Case, I live well above and beyond the path of the flood waters. The Canaries drown the Eastern Seaboard? I’ll hear about it on the news. The New Madrid Fault rips wide open? I slept through its past few attempts to wake me up, and will do it again.

Been watching 2012 trailers again, haven’t ya?

Der Trihs, I’m sure that would be devastating to anyone or anything on the ocean bottom, but the question is what the effect would be on land, and I can’t see any strong coupling between the two. Got any more cites?