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‘Only a matter of time’ before devastating 190ft tsunami hits Australia


Experts in Australia believe it is ‘only a matter of time’ before the country is hit by a devastating tsunami, reports claim.

A new video shows how tsunami experts are using a disaster detection system 24/7 to monitor if destructive waves could hit.

The system is designed to notify the public and authorities of an impending threat – but so far, experts says the country’s major cities have been ‘lucky’ to avoid massive tsunamis triggered by meteor impacts or seismic activity.

Previous powerful waves have crashed over 190ft cliffs and sent seawater as far inland as the Blue Mountains, 50km west of Sydney, experts believe.

Weather experts told Australian Geographic that if a similar amount of water were to hit heavily populated Sydney or Melbourne, the impact would be deadly.

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A magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck east of Papua New Guinea overnight – which lies 160km north of Australia – with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre immediately issuing a warning for waves of up to 30cm.

It later issued an update that there was no longer a threat, with Australia’s Tsunami Warning Centre adding that its coastlines are not at risk.

In nearby Indonesia, authorities also said at least three people were killed and four injured there in the last few hours, after a powerful earthquake struck near the popular tourist island of Bali.

Tsunami experts suggest Sydney has been hit by a number of tsunamis in the past – most recently in 1491 (Picture: Getty)
The Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains, where evidence has shown a tsunami may have washed 190ft above cliffs hundreds of years ago (Picture: Getty)

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster agency BNPB, wrote on Twitter that several houses were also damaged in the magnitude 6.0 earthquake that shook Bali and East Java.

The country is still reeling from an earthquake and tsunami last month that killed at least 2045 people, with up to 5000 still missing.

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Australia has so far escaped unharmed from any tsunami’s triggered by the devastating earthquakes that have hit its neighbouring countries.

But reports suggest that experts think that is only down to ‘luck’ and it could just be a matter of time before a monster wave hits.

Dale Dominey-Howes, co-director of the Australian Tsunami Research Centre at the University of New South Wales studied geological and archival records dating back to 1788 and found that about 40 tsunamis have hit Australia in this time.

The biggest was triggered by a quake just off Java in 2007. The resulting tsunami hit north-western Australia with a height of up to 10m, flooding 500m inland.

Fortunately, the area is sparsely populated, so no-one was killed.

Experts have revealed how they monitor Australia’s coastline 24-hours-a-day to warn of an impending tsunami threat (Picture: BOM)

But if something similar hit Sydney or Melbourne, it would be devastating, he said.

‘If it occurred without warning on a Saturday afternoon in summer the impacts would be catastrophic,’ Dale said.

‘I suspect it’s only a matter of time before we are affected by something damaging.’

The biggest quake threat to Australia is the subduction zone around Java and Sumatra, which could unleash a big tsunami that would strike the north-west.

Another site south of New Zealand has the potential for a tsunami that would reach the east coast in just two hours, but it’s unlikely it would be higher than 2m, Dale added.

While Tsunami expert Dr Ted Bryant, a former lecturer at the University of Wollongong, told Australian Geographic, evidence of monumental tsunamis pummelling the east coast throughout history suggests it could happen again.

He studied sediment layers and rock erosion and found that six big tsunamis caused by meteorite strikes or marine landslides have hit Sydney during the past 10,000 years.

The most recent probably occurred in 1491, Ted says, and produced a wave that washed over the harbour’s headlands, 60m above sea level.

A similar event today would have the potential for widespread destruction, he said.





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