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Friday, June 15, 2018

SIX HOURS TO SEATTLE: The Speculative Science

Day 44 of the Lower Puna Eruption, and nothing much has changed, which is not good.  On the other hand, I'm not sure if Halemaumau Crater had a 5+ earthquake this morning.  That is good.  Otherwise, I fly close by this active site when I take off from Kona towards Seattle tomorrow morning.  I hope Hilo doesn't fall into the sea when I cruise by at around 11:15AM.  I don't want my novel to become too real.

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Six Hours to Seattle will depend on something that has never happened in recorded history.  However, we know that there was the Nuuanu Landslide:

A particularly good example is the collapse on Oahu of Koolau Volcano a million years ago (give or take 500,000 years). Known as the Nuuanu Landslide or Nuuanu Debris Avalanche, where an apparent earthquake caused one third of the island to break off and fall into the sea. This might have been the largest landslide in the history of the planet, for just one chunk, known as the Tuscaloosa Seamount, is 20 miles (32 km) by 11 miles (18 km) and just more than one mile (1.8 km) high, and is located 60 miles (96 km) northeast of the Nuuanu Pali at a depth of 8800 feet (2680 m). As you drive towards Kaneohe/Kailua through the Pali or Wilson Tunnels and look back at the mountains, what you are viewing is that inside portion of the volcano that remained, although over the years, there has been considerable erosion and land build-up. A web page by Paul Jokiel of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology provides good info (Google search: “Jokiel’s illustrated scientific guide to Kaneohe Bay, Oahu”).

Kenji Satake of the Japan National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology reconstructed the event and surmised on the resultant tsunami from computer models using digital bathymetric data obtained on cruises commissioned by the Japan Marine Science and Technology Center. Estimated were: volume of 3000 km3 and velocity range from 20 m/s to 100 m/sec. Calculated tsunami heights were 100 meters (328 feet) in north Oahu, but 30 meters (98 feet) on the opposite side of the island, Waikiki. Five hours after the slide, 10-40 meters hit the Pacific Northwest and 30-70 meters in California, and in eight hours, 5-10 meters on the Japanese coast. Satake indicated that the wave heights could well have been double those sizes in the Hawaii Islands. So, a noted scientist did write about the prospects of a mega-tsunami in the far field from a landslide.

Thus, if Dr. Satake can speculate that a 230 feet high tsunami could have struck California from a Hawaii landslide, the highly speculative  mega-tsunami should easily reach Vancouver Island, and the tsunami reflected towards Seattle.  Also, too, the Cascadia Subduction Zone is in a dangerously metastable state today.  What if? 

The previous earthquake there occurred in 1700, and could  have been as high as 9.2.  The timing is within the realm of a good film:
Earthquake recurrence
est. yearinterval
(years)
1700 AD> 318
1310 AD390
810 AD500
400 AD410
170 BC570
600 BC

We know that earthquakes cause tsunamis.  Can a tsunami in reverse trigger an earthquake?

There are many unanswered questions.  If astrophysicists can imagine a Big Bang and people can envision a God, with Heaven, then certainly this worst case scenario for Hawaii and the West Coast cannot be totally laughed off.  Realistically?  Don't lose any sleep.  

Certainly, all this might make for an exciting movie, beginning with my book, Six Hours to Seattle.  Steven Spielberg, call me.

How realistic is Avatar, the #1 box office movie at $2.8 billion?  Or the  #3 2014 Star Wars ($2.1 billion).  #2 at $2.2 billion was Titanic, and that did happen.  One thing about life.  We just don't know what will happen.

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There are three ocean storms, but none looks particularly dangerous:


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