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Earthquakes, by Philip J. McDonnell
Archeologists have found evidence of a tsunami about 300 years ago 3 miles
from where I live in Western Washington state. The present location of the
evidence is about 100 miles inland from the Pacific at an elevation of 500
feet above sea level. To date no one has been able to correlate the event
with any known geological event elsewhere in the Pacific, but certainly
Alaska and Hawaii are the prime suspects.
It would seem that few coastal areas are really safe from these extreme
events. Apparently great distance and altitude are little protection.
Personally I would discount Hudnut's conjecture that the Earth wobbled in its orbit. Presumably the physics of the matter would relate to angular momentum. When the skater pulls her arms in she spins faster. When the Earth extends a wave outward presumably it spins slower. However one trouble with that argument is that it depends on how far out the wave extends. The radius of the Earth is abut 4000 miles. The tidal wave extended the radius only some 30 feet. It increased the radius by only 1 part in 650,000. The wave represented an even smaller shift in mass because it was localized. Viewed from a planet wide perspective all of the mass of the wave came from the mass in the immediate area of the wave. It came from its trough. The final point to realize is that water is very good at equalizing forces. With the waves now dissipated the closed system known as Earth has returned to its original orbit and spin with no perceptible net change.