Sea floor slab poses tsunami risk to Australia's northern Queensland coast: researchers
A section of sea floor is in the early stage of starting to break away from the edge of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, and could cause a tsunami when it happens catastrophically, Australian researchers warned on Friday.
Marine Biologist Robin Beaman at James Cook University in Queensland told the radio network of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC Radio) that researchers discovered the huge slab sitting on the edge of the continental shelf while they were mapping the sea floor around the Great Barrier Reef.
The one cubic kilometer slab is the remains of an ancient under water landslide.
"It's actually up on the top of the continental slope in about 350 meters of water. It's a pretty big chunk of sea floor (and) is in the very slow, early stages of starting to break away from the edge of the Great Barrier Reef," Beaman told ABC radio.
"If it were to break away catastrophically, that is break away really quickly ... it would actually cause a tsunami."
Beaman said the tsunami would travel across the Great Barrier Reef and impact the local area.
However, he said, "That is very unlikely. But we should be aware that these things exist. We don't really know when such a block might collapse. All I can say is sometime it eventually will. "