15-Meter High Tsunami Waves Hit Oman 1,000 Years Ago and the Sultanate is Totally Unprepared for the Next One


Tsunamis are can swallow up islands as well flood and destroy villages within minutes. These natural disasters are just terrifying.

New data show that tsunami waves, measuring up to 15 meters (49 feet), perforated the coast of today’s Sultanate of Oman 1,000 years ago.

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Tsunami wave in Oman. Picture via Tandingan

Today, such a powerful surge would have a devastating effect on the coastal communities.

Tsunamis aren’t rare in Oman, but haven’t been destructive, yet. The last one that struck in 2013 did not trigger any damage. During the most dangerous Makran event in 1945, the waves reached three meters. Now imagine five time this magnitude… OMG!

The new study shows that a much more powerful tsunami hit the coast of Oman with 15-meter high waves that carried inland huge stone boulders.

100-Ton Boulders Moved By Giant Tsunami in Oman

Most of the large rocks were probably created by the tsunami and the largest boulder – weighing an amazing 100 tons – still contained marine organisms such as mussels that cannot survive on land. Determining their time of death also gave the researchers the exact time when the rock was washed ashore.

In oder to determine how long the rocks had layed in the location they were found, the researchers analyzed the quartz crystals in the rock. And many gave a value of about 1,000 years. This is in accordance with dating results of tsunami sediments in the region.

Tsunamis in this area of the globe are due to the collision of the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates in the Arabian Sea. This subduction zone is known for triggering strong earthquakes and in some rare cases destructive tsunami waves.

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Tsunami risk in Oman. Picture via Int. Journal Disaster Risk Reduction

Today, even a small tsunami would have devastating consequences for local communities as oil refineries and sea water desalination plants have been constructed along the coast in the Sultanate of Oman.

Therefore, the scientists behind the new study suggest a warning system is needed to give residents enough time (about 30 minutes) to run or drive to safety.

Last year a drill took place to prepare the population of the sultanate:

Recently Oman was struck by abnormal snow. But I really hope the subduction zone will not unlash a devastating tsunami that will destroy the coast of Oman in the next few years. In the meantime, get prepared and be ready! [Uni Bonn, Marine Geology]

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