Sunday, September 07, 2008

Making a splash

This is not so much about the environment, but about the state of science and its reporting.

Last night I watched a doco on a tsunami that was supposed to have happened in the Cro-Magnon era of human existence in the Mediteranean.

Seems a slab of Etna on Sciliy may have slid down and sent out a wave a 100' high that washed the East shores clear.

And I recall a similar recent progamme about the Caanry Islands whereby the US eastern seaboard is soon to be wiped out.

Now, I am all for awarness and preparation, but I do rather wonder what, other than getting some worried, such as the latter really achieves.

But I also wonder about the science. In both shows, the most telling demo is when a slab of material is rushed down a slope in a lab to impact a model of a water feature. Sure enough, by the end a dirty great wave was impacting the other end.

Thing is, whilst accpeting the sheer power of the forces, but I do have to wonder about the relative sizes we're talking about here. A small section of an island in an entire ocean does not seem comparable. Nor does the 'route' being a narrow channel constrained by perspex. The energy disapation in a radial manner over tens of thousands of square miles would surely absorb a heck of a lot?

However, when an entire undersea shelf drop/rise over multiple miles takes place, as it did with the Boxing Day tragedy, that is a different kettle of fish.

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