I Smell a Thesis

It seems my help is urgently needed on a coincedentally tropical isle:

Bill McGuire, the director of the Benfield Grieg Hazard Research Centre at University College London, said a huge chunk of rock, roughly the size of the Isle of Man, was on the brink of breaking off the volcanic island of La Palma in the Canaries.

When – Professor McGuire says it is not a matter of if – the rock plunges into the ocean it will trigger giant waves called mega-tsunamis.


Despite the potential scale of the threat, little is being done to monitor the geological activity of La Palma. Only a few seismometers have been set up on the precarious western flank of the island, which do not provide enough information to predict when another eruption might occur.

And of course there’s a few dour individuals dedicated to pooh-poohing the idea that we should pay seismologists luxurious sums of money to study the problem:

The present study examines the assumptions and input parameters used by probabilistic numerical models and evaluates the threat of mega tsunami generation from flank failures of island stratovolcanoes. Based on geologic evidence and historic events, it concludes that massive flank collapses of Cumbre Vieja or Kilauea volcanoes are extremely unlikely to occur in the near geologic future. The flanks of these island stratovolcanoes will continue to slip aseismically, as in the past.

Aseismicity – pah! Incidentally, eccentric web design is generally not to be counted against a geologist’s professional gravitas. However, I don’t find the article particularly convincing, for a variety of reasons I’ll try to refrain from snarking about or discussing much at all since I really only skimmed it. On the other hand, this could genuinely plausibly be an interesting thesis topic, it’s got volcanoes and earthquakes and modeling and field work on nice islands and give-me-funding-or-New-York-gets-it and everything! Even hydrogeology. And appears to be somewhat understudied.

Of course, not having started applying to grad schools yet I’m getting somewhat ahead of myself.

(First link via World Changing)


  1. Urban Scrawl wrote:

    Scientists Warn Of Massive Tidal Wave from Canary Island Volcano.
    Something I picked up via the surf.co.nz forums.. I’ll just quote most of this word for word as posted at rense.com ..pretty daunting thing to have hanging over your head. Better get me a big gun surfboard hehe. Anyway…

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