Rare Video Captures Recent Megatsunami Hitting Small Greenland Fishing Village
One of the tallest tsunamis ever recorded struck a remote settlement in Greenland a few weeks ago. This mega-tsunami grew to 100 meters high (328 feet) as it hit Greenland, injuring dozens and killing four people from the 84 person small fishing village.
What caused this megatsunami to hit Greenland? It appears the wave was a response of a catastrophic landslide which brought debris, rock, and ice from up to 1km high crashing into the sea.
There is rare footage of the tsunami as reaches the small fishing town of Nuugaatsiaq, Greenland on the evening of June 17. The footage shows the tell tale sign of a tsunami, the ocean begins to recede backward before the wave hits. The footage here doesn’t show the 328 feet high crest of the wave, of which there is no video evidence. The fishing town of Nuugaatsiaq is approximately 20 km from the origin of the tsunami, which helped to dissipate the impact somewhat.
It is rare to have a video of an incoming tsunami as coastal residents typically evacuate at early signs of a tsunami. Some tsunamis can travel at speeds up to 500 mph, the equivalent of a jet plane, clearly faster than a human can run. The only advantage you have is the early warning signs of a tsunami, a receding ocean and hopefully early warning systems, to run toward high ground.
As noted earlier this tsunami was triggered by a massive landslide, which triggered seismometers to measure a 4.0 magnitude earthquake. After further investigation, it does not appear there was an earthquakeassociated with the tsunami. However, the landslide was large enough to literally shake the seismometer enough for it to falsely register a 4.0 M earthquake.
During summer months Greenland’s permafrost and ice sheets melt, causing increased likelihood of slope failures and landslides. As ice melts it lubricates and destabilizes slopes, causing mass failures which can trigger landslides. However, this particular landslide and subsequent tsunami are extremely rare in size and impact.
The landslide, located at the cliffs of Karrat Fjord, is believed to be over 3,000 feet long and 900 feet wide. Geologists who flew out to study the landslide found an adjacent unstable slope that could result in another landslide. Therefore, there is a significant risk of a second tsunami in the area if the second does cliff fail. There are helicopters and naval ships monitoring the slope for any signs of failure.
As conditions continue to warm and Greenland ice melts the risk of destabilizing slopes will increase, and thus the likelihood of tsunamis. This tsunami is analogous to the tallest ever recorded tsunami, which hit Lituya Bay, Alaska in 1958. The tsunami was triggered by an 8.3 M earthquake, triggering a tsunami 500 meters high (1640 feet). As ice continues to melt we will see increased occurrences of landslides triggered tsunamis.