Splish Splash

Steve's picture

No secret that I’m fascinated by waves.  Call me Doctor Doom, but the bigger the better.  One source of big ones is asteroid impact. 

I’ve blogged here before about these things  


 but the subject merits revisit, especially because today’s tale is fact.  After all, if it is in Wikipedia, it must be…


 About 2 and ½ million years ago, an asteroid struck the southeast Pacific Ocean about 1200 km west of Chile and 1500 km north of Antarctica. Careening in at 40,000 miles per hour the 1 km in diameter asteroid, named Eltanin, delivered the kinetic energy equivalent of 87,000 megatons of TNT.  The impact blew open a water cavity 40 km across and 3 km deep.  Even so, the Pacific there is somewhat deeper, so the strike dug no crater.  Still, the shock left abundant deformation traces on the seafloor, not to mention deposits of lots of scarce asteroid “stuff”.  Credit seabed surveys and sediment core samples that revealed the site of the long past disaster.

The Eltanin impact likely induced global environmental consequences, but also those cool big waves.  Tsunami 500 m high locally, dropped to 30-35 m at the Chilean Coast.  Fifty meter waves at Antarctica may well have broken up extant ice shelves.

Not many folks were around 2 million years ago, but Dr. Doom can’t help but conjure images of a contemporary redo.

OK, OK, next time I’ll try to transform Dr. Doom to Mr. Merry.

Steven N. Ward   Santa Cruz


StacyFrost's picture

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Risk Alert