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Long Waves The team estimates the tsunami would have hit a maximum speed of around 450 miles an hour (725 kilometers an hour), taking a little over three and a half hours to reach what are now Israel and Egypt.Evidence for the natural disaster comes mainly from disturbed sediments along the bottom of the Ionian Sea to the east of Sicily.

Italian researchers based their findings on geological clues and evidence of a hastily abandoned Stone Age fishing settlement in Israel.Maria Teresa Pareschi and colleagues at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Pisa estimated the tsunami's strength by modeling the impact of the landslide from Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe.The team's calculation, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, shows that 6 cubic miles (25 cubic kilometers) of mountainside collapsed into the sea, generating giant waves that reached coasts as far away as the Middle East and North Africa.Stewart of the University of Plymouth said the study is interesting, but remains cautious about blaming the newfound thrust fault for the A. 551 event."The Mediterranean has a lot of big earthquakes and there are lots of benches [platforms] everywhere.It is hard to link those benches to a particular fault," he said. )"If this earthquake and tsunami were repeated today, it would be a disaster of enormous proportions," said Sanford Holst, an author and expert on ancient Phoenicia.Ata Elias of the National Center for Geophysical Research in Beirut, Lebanon, and his colleagues had a hunch that the fault responsible for the A. By bouncing radio waves off the sea floor and studying the reflection patterns, Elias and his team were able to build a three-dimensional map showing all the lumps and bumps on the ocean bottom.

Running parallel to the Middle Eastern coast, they discovered a distinctive stepped ridge—the shape made by a "thrust" fault when one of Earth's tectonic plates shoves its way beneath another."We inferred that this thrust fault is the source of major earthquakes," Elias said.

But as soon as they were thrust out of the water by an earthquake the mollusks died. 551 quake have occurred over the past 6,000 to 7,000 years, the team found—suggesting a 1,500- to 1,750-year recurrence time for destructive quakes. 551, part of the the seafloor collapsed by around 5 to 10 feet (1.5 to 3 meters).

By dating the mollusk shells on the raised platforms, Elias' team could determine when the thrust fault moved. From the length of the thrust fault and the amount of uplift of the platforms on land, Elias and his colleagues estimate that the A. 551 earthquake must have had a magnitude of about 7.5 on the Moment magnitude scale, a more modern form of measurement than the Richter scale. This drop triggered a surging tsunami, which gained height rapidly as it pushed toward land.

A busy show this morning, with a look ahead to the third round of the Open at Hoylake, England’s second Test against India at Lord’s and the rest of the weekend’s sporting action.

It’s festival time too, and with so many great acts taking part at the Brentwood Festival I took the opportunity to play songs by some of them – such as Alexander O’Neal, Missing Andy, Ocean Colour Scene and Dani Clay.

The team was able to trace this fault along the coast for more than 62 miles (100 kilometers).