If large quake causes tsunami in Aegean, it will hit coast in 10-15 minutes, says professor
If an earthquake measuring over 7 on the Richter scale causes a tsunami in the Aegean, people will have just 10-15 minutes to react until the wave slams on the coast, said Costas Synolakis, Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Crete, during a speech at an event at the Academy of Athens, where he was admitted as its 45th regular member.
“As we will not have enough time, we need to have several reaction scenarios ready in advance and make the right preparation, so that from the moment the tsunami is detected, the Civil Protection and other relevant services will be able to make good use of the time available,” he said.
Synolakis said that many regions of Greece do not have tsunami risk maps and where those do exist (eg Crete), they tend to be quickly forgotten. He said the ultimate goal of everyone’s efforts must be “to never witness in Greece scenes like those in Thailand after the 2004 tsunami.”
“After the economic crisis, we will face the effects of climate change,” he said, noting however that the term “biblical disaster” often simply “masks the responsibilities of competent authorities”.
He said that the biggest tsunami to affect the region in recent times was in July 1956, following a 7.7-magnitude earthquake, which hit many Aegean islands.
Synolakis holds a BS, MS and PhD from the California Institute of Technology. His research has focused on tsunamis, inundation field surveys, numerical and analytical modeling, and hazard assessment, mitigation and planning, hydrodynamic pressures on dams and wave runup.
His research on the effects of earthquakes, tsunamis and extreme sea floods is international, as he has organized or participated in 31 field missions in 20 countries around the world.