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UK at (very small) risk from tsunami

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The UK is at risk from a tsunami, according to a government report, but the risk is very, very small. And apparently, any tsunami would also be very small by the time it reached us, and our existing coastal defences would be sufficient.

So why has the British Geological Survey spent the last six months considering the question? Well, the British Isles are surrounded by water, and you might remember that there was a tsunami in the headlines recently. Clearly, these two factors were sufficiently worrying for the government that it felt it was important to work out what the risks might be.

After all, in 1755 Lisbon was destroyed by a wave that reached a height of 18m after a magnitude 8.6 earth quake, and 8,200 years ago a large wave swept ashore in Scotland, after an undersea landslide off the coast of Norway.

And even more scary is the prospect of half a Canary Island collapsing into the sea - entirely possible, given the instability in the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma. If that were to happen it would send a massive wave racing across the Atlantic which would devastate the East Coast of America. The effect on the UK, however, would likely be very small.

Environment minister Elliot Morley said: "The report confirms that the probability is very low, and that in most cases our current defences to major centres should be sufficient. However, we will be looking at what further appropriate steps could be taken to adapt our existing warning and response systems."

Clearly, any Ark-building plans should probably be put on hold in lieu of stockpiling wellington-boots. ®

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