La Palma Tsunami
The mega-hyped tidal wave story
 
New Dutch research shows claims are untrue
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Visit La Palma
La Palma photographs and tourist information
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Scientists critical
The list of scientific organisation with contra-evidence now includes:
*Canarian Volcanic Institute
*TU Delft
*Southampton Oceanography Centre
*The Tsunami Society
*Charles L. Mader, Tsunami expert
*George Pararas-Carayannis
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About this website
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How the story started
1. Scientific research was published about a possible fault line on La Palma and the possibility of a landslide being caused by future volcanic activity.
2. Theoretical projections were made as to the circumstances under which the fault could cause a major landslide.
3. A computer model was made which showed that under specific circumstances a landslide could cause a tsunami which might reach the Atlantic Coast of the USA, the Caribbean, the northern and western coasts of the South American continent, West Africa and the Western coasts of Europe.
4. A television program was made based on speculations and a very large helping of dramatic effects.
5. The general public believed it. The media keeps repeating the speculation as if it is fact.
6. Other well respected scientists have destroyed the La Palma Tsunami theory by using factual evidence. The media has FAILED to present this contra-expertise.
So what's the problem?
The problem is that the world is even today being given the impression that:
1. La Palma will slide into the ocean.
2. A La Palma landslide would cause a large Tsunami.
3. The damage caused by a La Palma Tsunami would be on the scale of the 26 December 2004 Tsunami.
4. People should buy insurance against Tsunami flood damage.
5. People should not visit La Palma or the Canary Islands.
What are the effects?
1. People are being misled into believing the scaremongering media stories about a potential Tsunami disaster.
2. The La Palma and Canary Island tourist industry is being damaged by the incorrect information being distributed about a potentially disastrous Tsunami.
La Palma is innocent but suffering as a result of deliberately misleading information.
JMC and Thompson ceased their flights to La Palma from 2004 to 2007. Direct flights from Switzerland stopped. Flights from Germany have been substantially reduced.
The original arguments:
The proposed theory is basically that if volcanic activity1 occurs on a large enough scale water trapped2 in the volcanic rocks will be super-heated under pressure3 and will suddenly explode4 with such force that a huge chunk5 of La Palma will suddenly and very very rapidly6 drop into the sea and cause a Mega-Tsunami7 that would grow in size and cause damage8 when it reaches Florida.
All 8 numbered points are disputed or denied by well-respected experts. See further details
The TV and media exaggerations:
The media has taken this theory and given it the Spielberg treatment. They have implied that the La Palma volcano will explode like Krakatoa or Mount St.Helens. It won't. They have made the wave into a monster wave of 8 to 100 meters high which will crash into Florida and cause massive damage to property and huge loss of life. It won't.
The counter arguments:
The basic research which was done is correct. That is not in dispute. There is a fault, some movement has been detected and there is a volcano which will probably erupt again.
BUT .....
1. The existing fault is only 4km long, but it was extrapolated to 25km for the computer model. Worse still, the position of the fault line was ignored for the model and a fictitious line on the other side of the mountain ridge was used instead, 2 to 3km further away!.
2. The rock on La Palma is a mixture of very porous lava and well faulted and open basaltic layers which will not permit a build up of (steam) pressure.
3. There is an old deep-seated volcanic core between part of the fictitious fault and the sea. This will block the proposed landslide along part of its length.
4. The base of the proposed structure which is supposed to slide is placed at 2km under the surface ... there is no evidence to support this. There is evidence to indicate that previous landslides have been superficial and not deep-seated.
5. There is strong evidence from reliable expert sources that any landslide will not occur in one massive collapse.
6. There is no evidence to support the theory that any catastrophic landslide would attain the extremely high speeds needed to crate a Tsunami.
7. The computer model was based on algorithms used for under sea linear earthquakes. This algorithm is not relevant to the La Palma situation because a La Palma landslide would cause a 'single point event' which would disperse quickly.
8. There is strong evidence to suggest that previous landslide generated Tsunami were very short lived and dissipate within a few hundred kilometres. Some were not even noticed at a distance to 25km.
Why La Palma?:
This is a question which has been asked on La Palma and there is great suspicion about the logic behind the choice because ....
1. There have been more landslides on other Canary Islands, e.g. Tenerife (5) and El Hierro (4) so why chose La Palma (only 2).
2. There is more visible volcanic activity on Lanzarote .... so why chose La Palma.
3. The largest pre-historic landslide remnants are on the neighbouring island of El Hierro, that's why it is crescent-moon-shaped ... so once again why chose La Palma.

The scientific reasons for choosing La Palma seem doubtful. Presumably there were other non-scientific motivations.
The obvious one is that La Palma is a beautiful island unspoilt by commercial tourism, dotted with traditional and modern holiday cottages and ideal for walking holidays and getting away from it all. It is a really wonderfully warm and friendly place to do research, but that's probably not the reason.
It would seem likely that the answer lies not in the source of the suggested tsunami but with the location of the potential damage. The suggested La Palma landslide is the only one that would possibly cause damage in the USA. So why would that be a significant factor. Maybe the fact that the research was funded by a American Hazard Insurance Company is relevant?

Endorsement by the scientific community:
NONE
In fact many reliable researchers and geological and volcano experts have labelled the suggestions as ridiculous and the conclusions as work of fantasy with no basis in fact.
The leading Spanish and Canary island vulcanologist was furious when the fantasy film was announced and shown. All serious scientific work is ALWAYS published in scientific journals to enable other researchers to provide supporting or contrary evidence, to enable discussion and quality control on the work done and conclusions drawn and to provide a balanced and factually correct report to the general public. This procedure was NOT followed in the case of the Mega-Tsunami. The basis of the wild theory is NOT substantiated in fact and has been completely destroyed by contrary evidence.
Not only has the scientific community NOT ENDORSED this theory, but the scientific community was DELIBERATELY kept in the dark until after the documentary was shown.
Conclusion:
1. A catastrophic volcanic eruption on La Palma is not possible.
2. A landslide is possible but not on the scale suggested and is improbable in the next 10,000 years.
3. The computer model is NOT technically correct for short period tsunamis such as proposed to be generated by La Palma, the parameters used are wildly exaggerated and the algorithm is not applicable to this sort of event.
4. If the landslide happens it is unlikely to cause more than a big splash which will not be noticeable further than 100 km from the coast of La Palma.
5. La Palma is the victim of a commercially motivated scaremongering publicity stunt.
Comparison with the 26 December 2004 Tsunami:
The 2 events are not comparable.
Even if a La Palma Tsunami should occur it be insignificant compared to the 26 December 2004 Tsunami.
The earthquake which caused the 26 December 2004 Tsunami displaced water over a length of 1000km and probably 10 meters high and more than 20m wide (based in guestimates on 28 December 2004).
Even the most exaggerated worst case La Palma scenario uses a total length of 25km.
Exploding the media myths:
1. La Palma will NOT explode like Krakatoa or Mount St.Helens.
Why not? Because it is the wrong sort of magma and the wrong sort of geomorphic structure.
 
2. The tidal wave will not be over 20 metres tall when it reaches Florida.
Why not? Because a landslide on La Palma would be a 'single point event' like dropping a pebble in a pool. The ripples from the pool spread out and diminish very rapidly in height and strength. In the most extreme situation a La Palma landslide would probably not be noticeably more than 100km away.
 
3. The 26 December 2004 event could NOT happen on La Palma.
Why not? The 26 December 2004 event occurred on about a 1000km stretch of the junction between 2 tectonic plates. La Palma is not at the edge of a tectonic plate, never has been and never will be.
 
4. The landslide could not be triggered by terrorists. (Yes it has been suggested.)
Why not? Drilling holes deep enough to bury explosives or a nuclear bomb would be noticed by the local people. La Palma is a civilised island with a population of about 90,000 people and thriving economy. Planning permission would be needed to start drilling and illegal drilling would not get a chance to begin.
 
5. Pre-emptive strikes by the US Military would not solve the problem.(This has also been suggested.)
Why not? The forces needed to trigger even a small landslide on La Palma would be far greater than are available. The level of destruction would not be acceptable to the inhabitants or their government (Spain) or the EU. The fall-out of a nuclear strike would be far more destructive than any supposed Tsunami.
 
6. There have not been 14 mega-tsunamis started in the Canary Islands (This too has been endlessly repeated.)
Why not? There are 14 piles of rubble in the sea around the Canary Islands, there is NO evidence to suggest that 13 of them even caused a splash. The El Hierro collapse may have caused a splash but that was so many thousands of years ago that there is no conclusive evidence. Evidence pointed to by the authors is strongly disputed.
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