Imagine 42-feet tall waves going through this peaceful-seeming Lake Geneva (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
We usually associate tsunamis with beachside property and the seaboard, but what about the mountains? More importantly, how about the postcard-worthy Swiss Alps? It may come as a shocker, but it seems that a tsunami hit Geneva, Switzerland around 1,500 years ago inundating the shores with up to 42 feet of water.
Historical accounts have mentioned the tsunami before, but this is the first time scientists have turned up geological evidence to support the claim. The findings, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, state that there is still a risk of this happening to inhabitants around Lake Geneva.
"It's certainly happened before and I think we can expect that it will probably happen again sometime," says one of the researchers, geologist Guy Simpson, from the University of Geneva.
Almost 200,000 people live in the city of Geneva, and somewhere around one million live around the shores of Lake Geneva. A tsunami with the magnitude of the 563 A.D. version would have devastating consequences on such a population density.
"Our numerical simulations with a shallow water model show that delta collapse in the lake generates a large tsunami at various locations along the shore, where a wave of 13 metres (42 feet) is observed after only 15 minutes, and at Geneva where a wave of eight metres (26 feet) arrives 70 minutes after the mass movement is initiated," said the researchers.
The 563 A.D. tsunami is believed to have come from a rock slide three miles from where the River Rhone enters Lake Geneva in the east.
The team of researchers used radar to find a pile of sediment that is six miles long, five miles wide, and 16 feet thick in the deepest part of Lake Geneva. The scientists dated the sediment to between 381 A.D. and 612 A.D.
"Since the AD 563 event is the only significant natural event recorded in historical accounts within our calculated age interval, we consider our dating results to be a strong indication that the deposit is linked to the AD 563 rockfall and tsunami," wrote Katrina Kremer, according to the AFP.
In essence, it looks like nobody is really safe from Mother Nature, and towns and cities that live in a peaceful lull like some of those in the Alps should have emergency precautions at hand in case such a disasterous scenario occurs.