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Nobody Heard or Saw This Landslide. What’s the Big Deal?

bigthink   24 March 2017   USA   Alaska  

On October 17, 2015, a rainy night to begin with, a huge tsunami cresting at 600 feet barreled through the darkness of the remote Taan fjord in Alaska. It stripped away forests on both sides of the fjord, and dragged an iceberg out into Icy Bay on the coast. Nobody witnessed it, and it’s only by seismic waves picked up 155 kilometers away that scientists knew something had happened. That something was a one-minute-long 200-million ton, 72-million cubic meter landslide of stones slamming down into the deep waters of the fjord. To give you a sense of the resulting wave’s height, the tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011 was only 130 feet above sea level. To say that scientists are concerned is an understatement, since this may just one of many such catastrophes we can expect thanks to climate change. There have been five other huge landslides in the area in just the last five years.

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