Calculating tsunami risk for the US East Coast

Apr 19, 2013

The greatest threat of a tsunami for the U.S. east coast from a nearby offshore earthquake stretches from the coast of New England to New Jersey, according to John Ebel of Boston College, who presented his findings today at the Seismological Society of America 2013 Annual Meeting.

The potential for an East Coast tsunami has come under greater scrutiny after a 2012 earthquake swarm that occurred offshore about 280 kilometers (170 miles) east of Boston. The largest earthquake in the 15-earthquake swarm, most of which occurred on April 12, 2012, was magnitude (M) 4.0.

In 2012 several other earthquakes were detected on the edge of the Atlantic of North America, with magnitudes between 2 and 3.5. These quakes occurred off the coast of southern Newfoundland and south of Cape Cod, as well as in the area of the April swarm. All of these areas have experienced other in the past few decades prior to 2012.

The setting for these earthquakes, at the edge of the continental shelf, is similar to that of the 1929 M7.3 Grand Banks earthquake, which triggered a 10-meter tsunami along southern Newfoundland and left tens of thousands of residents homeless.

Ebel's preliminary findings suggest the possibility than an earthquake-triggered tsunami could affect the northeast coast of the U.S. The evidence he cites is the similarity in tectonic settings of the U.S. and the major Canadian earthquake in 1929. More research is necessary, says Ebel, to develop a more refined hazard assessment of the probability of a strong offshore earthquake along the northeastern U.S. coast.

Explore further: Severe ozone depletion avoided

More information: Presentation title: "The hazard of offshore earthquakes and tsunami along the U.S. east coast" by John Ebel

Related Stories

Geological evidence for past earthquakes in Tokyo region

Jan 31, 2012

In 1923, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake devastated the Tokyo area, resulting in more than 100,000 deaths. About 200 years earlier, in 1703, a magnitude 8.2 earthquake struck the same region, causing more than 10,000 deaths.

Chilean Earthquake Triggers Smaller Than Expected Tsunami

Mar 01, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- While a huge earthquake off the coast of Chile triggered a tsunami that moved at the speed of a jet aircraft across the Pacific Ocean Feb. 27, the event was smaller scientists expected, said a University ...

Ill. earthquake a wake-up call

Apr 20, 2008

A U.S. seismologist said the earthquake that jolted the Midwest Friday is a reminder of the risks seismic events pose outside familiar quake areas.

Recommended for you

Satellites catch the birth of two volcanic islands

3 hours ago

The birth of a volcanic island is a potent and beautiful reminder of our dynamic planet's ability to make new land. Given the destruction we've seen following natural events like earthquakes and tsunamis in t ...

Uncovering diversity in an invisible ocean world

4 hours ago

Plankton are vital to life on Earth—they absorb carbon dioxide, generate nearly half of the oxygen we breathe, break down waste, and are a cornerstone of the marine food chain. Now, new research indicates ...

Evolution of the Antarctic ice sheet

6 hours ago

ULB study sheds a new light on the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet. It shows for the first time that ice rises (pinning points that keep the floating parts of ice sheets in place) are formed during the transition between ...

Severe ozone depletion avoided

May 26, 2015

We are already reaping the rewards of the Montreal Protocol, with the ozone layer in much better shape than it would have been without the UN treaty, according to a new study in Nature Communications.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.