Subj: Cracks Discovered in Ocean Floor
Date: 5/2/00 4:21:36 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: (New Millennium)

Cracks Discovered in Ocean Floor

Associated Press
May 2, 2000; 5:55 a.m. EDT

FALMOUTH, Mass. –– Scientists have discovered cracks in the ocean floor
off the East Coast that they say could trigger a tsunami, sending
18-foot waves toward the mid-Atlantic states.

In this month's issue of the journal Geology, the three researchers say
they discovered the cracks along a 25-mile section of the continental
shelf off the Virginia and North Carolina coasts.

Those areas and the lower Chesapeake Bay would be at the highest risk
for wave heights similar to the storm surge of a category 4 hurricane,
which is characterized by top sustained winds of 131 mph to 155 mph.

Neal Driscoll of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod,
Jeffrey Weissel of Columbia University and John Goff of the University
of Texas said the recently discovered cracks could mean the continental
shelf is unstable.

The cracks indicate the sea floor could slide down like an avalanche,
triggering giant waves. It's unclear whether the cracks are fossil
features or whether they are still active, Driscoll said.

The scientists plan an expedition this weekend to gather more
information to better determine the risk to the coast.

"The threat, if they haven't moved in a long time, might be less,"
Driscoll said.

He said there is evidence that a tsunami, a massive wave caused by an
earthquake or volcanic eruption, occurred 16,000 to 18,000 years ago.

A tsunami in Papua New Guinea killed 2,000 people in 1998.