With the final casualty toll of the Boxing Day tsunamis still undetermined, scientists have begun to take a closer look at how future geophysical events might affect various regions of the world. Seismologists, geologists and other experts have uncovered a number of scenarios that could spell disaster for millions of people.
Catastrophe experts have warned that a 12-mile long shelf of rock weighing approximately five hundred million tons might fall into the ocean when the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma next erupts. This would result in gigantic tsunamis that could potentially lay waste to the eastern seaboard of the United States. One northeast Ohio man, however, thinks there is danger much, much closer to home.
“It could happen right here in Ohio,” says Elyria resident Leonard Dalton. Elyria, a suburb of Cleveland, is one of many towns the would be utterly destroyed by a Lake Erie tsunami, according to Dalton.
“There is a fault line running right under Lake Ontario,” Dalton told reporters at a press conference on Monday. “If a volcano erupted there, all of southeastern Ontario would fall into Lake Erie, creating a massive tsunami that would obliterate everything on the southern coast.”
That includes all of northern Ohio as well as parts of Pennsylvania and New York. “Yes, there is a fault line under Lake Ontario,” confirmed Dr. Alan Meadows of Ohio’s Division of Geological Survey. Dr. Meadows spoke from the division’s laboratory at Alum Creek State Park, north of Columbus—well away from the potential danger zone. “This fault line is very stable, and there is no indication that future earthquakes of significant intensity will occur along the line. Additionally, there is no volcano on that line.”
Dr. Meadows also pointed out that Ontario and La Palma are very different. “The situation in the Canary Islands is unique,” he said. “On La Palma, you’ve got an unstable slab of rock that could very feasibly slide into the ocean. Ontario isn’t an island, and there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that any part of it could break away, even in the event of a catastrophe of the type Mister Dalton describes.”
Leonard Dalton disagrees. “It’s easy for the bureaucrats and the white coats to dismiss this,” he said. “They’re all sitting warm and cozy in Columbus. They could care less if Cleveland, Toledo and Buffalo were under fifty feet of water.”
Dalton’s seismological background consists largely of watching films like Earthquake, released in 1974, and Volcano and Dante’s Peak, both released in 1997. “I’ve seen what happens when we ignore the signs,” Dalton warned a group of reporters and passersby outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, which is located near the Lake Erie shore. “No one conceived of a volcano in downtown Los Angeles, either.”
Ontario could not be reached for comment.