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New York Might Face Watery End

New York Post | December 28 2004

December 28, 2004 -- It hardly raised a ripple when it was reported over the summer, but news that a tsunami could one day hit New York is suddenly getting a second look.

Several months ago, geologists raised concerns that an unstable flank of a volcano in the Canary Islands off the coast of Western Africa could slide into the sea and send giant waves across the Atlantic at the speed of a jumbo jet.

Within three hours, the wave could swamp the west coast of Africa. Within five hours, it could hit southern England, and within 12 hours, it could build up enough force to wipe out the U.S. East Coast, including New York, Washington, Boston and Miami, according to a British researcher.

"Eventually, the whole rock will col lapse into the water, and the collapse will devastate the Atlantic margin," said Bill McGuire, of the Benfield Grieg Hazard Research Center.

"We need to be out there now looking at when an eruption is likely to hap pen . . . other wise there will be no time to evacu ate major cities."

McGuire said close monitoring of the site might give two weeks warning of the disaster. But that was before funding of the seismology project in the region dried up several years ago.

Scientists at the time of McGuire's August study paid little attention to the warning, largely because the volcano in question has been dormant since 1971, even though it erupts every 20 to 200 years.