December 21st, 2012 by Joshua S Hill
Researchers from the James Cook University in Australia have come across a huge slab of sea floor near the Great Barrier Reef that is in the early stages of collapse.
When the one cubic kilometre slab finally breaks away, it will fall one kilometre into the adjacent basin causing a localised tsunami along the Queensland coast.
“Undersea landslides are a well understood geological process but we didn’t know there were any on the Barrier Reef,” geologist Robin Beaman told AFP.
The James Cook University seem not to have released any information about this problem on their own website, however the geologists responsible for the discovery have revealed their findings in the journal Natural Hazards.
Incidentally, the geologists were travelling on the Southern Surveyor, an Australian maritime research vessel and the same ship upon which Maria Seton last month discovered that Sandy Island – as listed on world maps – does not actually exist
“We found this one large block that stood out,” explained Robin Beaman. “It is sitting on top of a sub-marine canyon, cutting into the slopes and it is in the preliminary stage of collapse.”
However Beaman stressed that no one knew exactly when the slab would eventually collapse, “whether tomorrow or even in our lifetime,” but that “it is absolutely going to collapse and when it does fall it will fall one kilometre into the adjacent basin. This will generate a localised tsunami that will affect the Queensland coastline, which is around 70 kilometres (40 miles) away.”.
“We’re not trying to alarm people, but we need to know it is there and what could happen when it falls,” he added.
Source: James Cook University and PhysOrg
Image Source: AFP
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