Unusual Medieval Tsunami Hit the Alps

In an unusual disaster, a tsunami hits the Alps in Geneva, Switzerland. The killer wave hit a medieval era Geneva back in A.D. 1000, nearly 1,500 years ago, destroying everything in its path in a massive deluge.

Experts say that during that time frame, a massive flood destroyed several houses, mills, farm lands, churches, and even damaging castles like the Chateau de Chillon found on Lake Geneva, in Switzerland.

Recent research suggests that this unusual tsunami wave is actually a type of seismic ocean wave that was triggered by the occurrence of a land slide. Back in medieval times, the city was already an important trade centre. The deluge swept away entire villages, and scientists believe that the chances of this happening again is more likely than anyone thinks.

Since the lake is far from any kind of ocean, it is confirmed that the massive killer wave was formed due to a landslide that was located close to the Rhone River. The massive column of soil displaced the water in the area, crashing into Lake Geneva in a massive tsunami.

Scientists discovered the occurrence of this landslide after taking samples from the bottom of the river and analyzing it. They discovered that the soil was actually top soil that has slid all the way down to the bottom of the river in a massive land slide. They found these soil samples on the easternmost corner of the Rhone river.

Scientists have also uncovered that the wave could be anywhere between 9 to 26 feet tall, travelling 225 square miles to Lake Geneva. They could not provide a more accurate estimate of the tsunami because they are unable to measure the speed of the rock fall.

The Alpine tsunami is likely to occur again, especially since the soils may be unstable, especially with the ongoing climate change. A massive landslide like this could devastate several surrounding cities in Geneva, including Lausanne, Nyon, and Thonon-les-Bains. Geneva in particular is at the greatest risk because of how close it is to the lake. Another issue is that the river funnels into a narrower strip, which will only amplify the encroaching wave as it barrels down towards Geneva. Around 200,000 people will be affected if this disaster should ever occur.

Fortunately, there have been no signs of massive soil erosion and researchers are convinced that another landslide and tsunami is not likely to happen any time soon. There are several flooding warnings however, because of the effect of a glacier retreating away from the city’s island.

“If this has happened five to six times since the last glaciation, there’s reason to believe it could happen again in the future” says Guy Simpson of the University of Geneva. Simpson is a geologist who also worked on the study’s model.

He also notes that it is still important to remain vigilant, because 10 foot wave could still cause massive damage and loss of human lives within the Swiss Alps.


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