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"But from this, we are able to identify that the place has been hit by a mega tsunami in the past. So even though it is infrequent for this part of the world, it still happens and there is a need to promote tsunami education for coastal peoples."
The Wollongong University geologist estimates the tsunami was moving at about 350kmh when it hit the coast. He believes the earlier tsunami, which struck about 850 years ago, was probably even bigger.
Prof. Bryant linked the legend with a tsunami after he and a colleague found two telephone booth-sized boulders jammed one behind another in a crevice below a cliff face at Haycock Point near Merimbula. The boulders were well above any normal storm surge. (cont.)
'"You find the signs all around the coast, once you know what you're looking for, and we found tsunami debris on the south coast, in Western Australia and around Cairns, and all the radiocarbon dates were similar," Prof. Bryant said.
"You can't have one big tsunami approaching different parts of the Australian coastline from opposite directions. Unless these things are much more frequent than we think, there must be another explanation."
"We're toying with the idea that the tsunamis were created by a comet that broke into a couple of fragments that hit the oceans around Australia." (cont.)
Radiocarbon dating along the southeast coast of Australia indicates that these giant tsunamis have occurred with a frequency of around one every 400-500 years throughout the Late Holocene.
One recent tsunami around AD 1500 stands out, because it not only affected over 400 km of the Australian coastline, but was also recorded on the east coast of New Zealand and on Lord Howe Island in the middle of the Tasman Sea.
Aboriginal and Maori legends, which can be dated to around AD 1500, are possible hints of a ‘cosmogenic’ source for this event. In addition, cultural changes among Aborigines in Australia after this time lend support to the idea that there was a substantial tsunami.
Presently, the point of impact of the object responsible for the disaster has not been determined, but it is estimated to lie southeast of New Zealand. If Professor Bryant’s argument is correct, the Antipodean oceans might expect a comparable event in the not-too-distant future.
' He has found signs that giant waves swept over Australia, California and the Scottish coastline in the past and believes it could happen again. “I believe St. Andrews golf course [in Scotland] is a tsunami deposit,” says Bryant.'
' Over the past 2,000 years, tsunamis have killed 462,597 people in the Pacific, with the largest toll in the Japanese islands. The 1755 earthquake in Lisbon, Spain triggered a 50 foot wave that caused widespread destruction in southwest Spain, western Morocco and across the Atlantic in the Caribbean.
' In 1989, Bryant was researching rocks and sand barriers along the coastline of eastern Australia when he noticed giant boulders, some weighing almost 100 tons, that were jammed into a crevice at the top of a rock platform over 100 feet above sea level that was sheltered from the waves. After further investigation, he found other massive boulders miles inland. Bryant then examined bedrock that had been eroded and found gaps roughly gouged in the rock in places where normal waves couldn’t reach. “But a tsunami could do this,” Bryant says. “… I had descended into the abyss of catastrophism.”
'But Bryant says computer modeling suggests a meteor would not have to be a “dinosaur killer” to cause a mega-tsunami. A chunk of meteor less than 350 feet in diameter moving at 65 feet per second could theoretically produce a tsunami that is 300 feet high.