The Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, presented yesterday the State Plan of Civil protection Faced with the Risk of Tsunami, an instrument with which Spain has, for the first time, an anticipation and early warning mechanism in the event of this type of emergencies that it lacked until now, when it is a country with some 7,660 kilometers of coastline in those that reside around 58% of the population.
The director of Civil Protection and Emergencies, Leonardo Marcos, stressed that the early detection system could alert, in the most serious episodes, up to 70 minutes in advance of the arrival of the first large wave to the coast since the movement is detected seismic that usually precedes tidal waves. It would be “enough time to prepare a response,” he said, while warning about the fact that the lack of information and training is the main threat, hence they are considered dissemination campaigns and programs to train children and young people In matters such as that, if necessary, the most useful thing is to go up to a third floor or go inside, towards a high surface.
Unaware of the danger
Although the probability of a tsunami affecting the Canary Islands is very low, it is not impossible, scientists point out. The tsunamis that have been documented in the historical series – such as the one that took place in November 1755, a consequence of the Great Lisbon Earthquake– corroborate the hypothesis that the Islands could be affected in the future by this type of phenomenon that could be caused by both distant earthquakes and massive earth movements, which could hypothetically cause Cumbre Vieja, on La Palma. A study published in the journal Geosciences, in which scientists from the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (IGME), Museums of Tenerife and the University of La Laguna participated, thus shows it, pointing out the need to update the plans of emergency of the Canary Islands to prevent possible catastrophes to which the islands are exposed. In this sense, they emphasize that the inhabitants of the Archipelago are not aware of the danger of a tsunami, so there is no knowledge of self-protection measures, such as what to do or where to go in this case. These factors cause the vulnerability of the potential exposed population, both residents and tourists, to be very high, so they propose to enable information and training campaigns so that citizens know the phenomenon, how it can affect them and what they should do in in case it occurs
There is no specific plan
The Canary Islands participated in November 2015, together with Andalusia and the civil protection systems of Portugal and Morocco in Westsunami 2015, a tsunami drill that would affect the southwest of the Peninsula, the Canary Islands and the Atlantic coast of Morocco. The truth is that, today, the Archipelago has special plans for volcanic risk (Pevolca); seismic risk (Pesican); forest fires (Infocan); accidents in the transport of dangerous goods by road (Pemerca); radiological risk (Radican) and risk of floods (Peinca), but no tsunamis.
Mount Teide and the megatsunamis
The Teide caused in one of its eruptions a 130 meter tall megatsunami. But there were two. The data, published in 2017 in the journal Nature, is the result of taking a series of soil samples on the island. Scientists Rafael París, Juan J. Coello Bravo, María Martín González, Karim Kelfoun and François Nauret argued in that article that they had confirmed this fact from the soil samples analyzed on the northwestern slopes of Tenerife, around Isla Baja and Teno. , which came to demonstrate that there were two main tsunamis that affected the coast of Tenerife more than 170,000 years ago and warned that the sum of those two events now generates a forecast of a new risk scenario that until now did not exist. The most recent tsunami would have occurred 178,000 years ago in Teno Bajo and Playa de la Arena, while the other would have occurred 194,000 years ago in the El Puertito area. In the case of Teno, experts note that the tsunami “did not occur immediately” after a volcanic eruption.
Cumbre Vieja and the collapse
The hypothesis that a landslide in the volcano of Cumbre Vieja, in La Palma, could cause a megatsunami that would reach the coast of New York generates an alarm that scientists consider unjustified. National Geographic dedicated the documentary End Day to the five possible causes of the end of days and one of them was the fracture of the La Palma volcano. Another BBC documentary pointed out that one of the biggest concerns of scientists is the danger of a repeat mega tsunami, worse than Ritter’s, coming from the Cumbre Vieja volcano.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.