Mega-tsunami imminent in the Mediterranean – 100 years and counting

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed over 200,000 people | Image: Wikipedia It’s not every day that you have the same experience as the people who lived on the Mediterranean island of Crete in AD 365: All of a sudden, the ground below them rose a massive 30 feet (10 meters) in a burst of tectonic activity. Even with all our knowledge how the planet works, I’d still be pretty confused if that happened to me tomorrow.

But the huge uplift wasn’t all that happened: a massive tsunami was unleashed that went on to kill tens of thousands of people across the region, as well as destroying the ancient Egyptian city of Alexandria. It ravaged huge areas from Greece down to Libya, and managed to carry ships up to two miles inland.

Map of the Mediterranean island of Crete

Scary? It almost sounds like a Greek myth. But the worrying thing is that new research suggests that a similar tsunami occurs every 800 years – after the 365 tsunami, another one took place in around 1300, meaning that the Mediterranean is due for another wave of destruction anytime in the next century.

Millions of people live around the area that would be affected, meaning that if a tsunami was to strike it would cause unimaginable devastation. It could well be worse than the tragic 2004 south-east Asian tsunami that killed over 200,000 people.

But wait a minute… how can scientists tell that Crete rose 30 feet in AD 365, and that another tsunami is due soon? They know about Crete because there is a line of animal and plant remains running along Crete at a height of around 30 feet, like the line in a bath where water has been up to. And they know another tsunami is imminent because they have carefully analyzed the miniscule movements of the tectonic plates over recent years, as well as looking back at records of the 365 tsunami.

Should we be worried, or is this just a scare story? Some scientists argue that the 365 tsunami was just a one-off event… I’m personally more convinced by the 800 year cycle story – you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Related: Did you know that Italy is currently on a collision course with Croatia – click here


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