CORVALLIS - After years of study, researchers believe they can now determine how devastating a tsunami triggered by an earthquake would be on the Oregon Coast, but what about a tsunami caused by a landslide?
Wednesday at Oregon State University's Hinsdale Wave Research Lab, scientists demonstrated a certain type of tsunami often referred to as a “stealth.”
Their demonstration featured a conical island in the middle of a wave basin. To simulate a landslide, they slid 3,000 pounds of gravel down one side of the island, creating first a splash then several waves.
Dr. Hermann Fritz, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, conducted the demonstration.
“All the tsunami hazard maps and flood zone maps and inundation maps are all based on tsunamis generated by earthquakes,” said Fritz.
He has been studying both under and above water slides that could potentially accompany an earthquake. He said such tsunamis can happen without warning and they can be much larger and much more devastating than one triggered by an offshore quake.
“There’s really no limit on how big the wave can be locally,” said Fritz, adding that the waves could be large enough to wipe out entire towns.
Fritz said he hopes his research will one day be included in tsunami hazard maps so communities can better prepare for the worst, and lives can be saved.