Thu, Apr 23, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Dominica faces probable tsunami threat: study


Tsunami waves unleashed by the collapse of an unstable volcano on the Caribbean island of Dominica could hit the highly populated coast of nearby Guadeloupe, a new study showed.

“It’s not a case of ‘if’ this landslide and tsunami will happen, but ‘when,’” lead researcher Richard Teeuw, a geologist at the University of Portsmouth, said on Tuesday in a statement. “The trigger will probably be a major earthquake, occurring after the heavy rain and coastal erosion of the hurricane season. It could happen in a hundred years or it could happen next week.”

Up to 30,000 residents and ­tourists along the coast of Guadeloupe, a French territory 50km north of Dominica, would have almost no time to seek higher ground, the study found.

A million-tonne chunk of rock from the volcano, called Devil’s Peak, is poised to crash into the sea, producing tsunami waves up to 3m high, the geologists calculated.

Such a landslide could weaken an additional 3 million tonnes of rock upslope, potentially resulting in larger waves of up to 5m.

The result would likely be severe property damage and possible loss of life, said the study, published in the newsletter of the American Geophysical Union.

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