4 July 2017
La Palma – initial images of the “mega-landslide”
I have spent the last three days on the island of La Palma, principally to represent the University of Sheffield at the inauguration of the new GOTO telescope, yesterday. I was able to take a couple of days over the weekend to visit the site of the famous “mega-landslide” that, some people have suggested, could create a damaging Atlantic tsunami (noting of course that I am, like many others, a real skeptic of this theory). I have written about this slide – and the rather extreme interpretation that is needed to generate the sort of tsunami that has hit the headlines – previously, but this was the first time I have visited. In the post I will provide some photos of the site; I will then examine the hypothesis in more detail in a subsequent post.
The first thing to note is that La Palma is gorgeous, it has been a pleasure to visit. The geology is remarkable too. The hypothesis is that “mega-landslide” would involve a huge mass on the southern end of the island slipping to the west. This is a slide on the flank of the Cumbre Vieja volcano – which is fact an elongated volcanic ridge consisting of multiple volcanic cones, some of which date from the 1970s. This is a view along the ridge from the north:-
This is a view of the Cumbre Vieja ridge from the south:
A hike along the ridge gives a good sense of the nature of the volcanic peaks that are supposedly being pulled apart by the potential landslide:-
Of course it would be remiss of me not to mention the telescopes that I was there to visit. This is sunset at the observatory:
Sometimes its not so hard to be a University Vice-President. I will post some more about the “mega-landslide” in the coming days,