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Ancient Tsunami Devastated Lake Geneva Shoreline 41

Posted by samzenpus
from the five-feet-high-and-rising dept.
ananyo writes "In ad 563, more than a century after the Romans gave up control of what is now Geneva, Switzerland, a deadly tsunami on Lake Geneva poured over the city walls. Originating from a rock fall where the River Rhône enters at the opposite end of the lake to Geneva, the tsunami destroyed surrounding villages, people and livestock, according to two known historical accounts. Researchers now report the first geological evidence from the lake to support these ancient accounts. The findings suggest that the region would be wise to evaluate the risk today, with more than one million inhabitants living on the lake's shores, including 200,000 people in Geneva alone. The researchers cannot say exactly what created the tsunami (nothing suggests it was an earthquake), but they propose that the falling rock caused an accumulated heap of sediment in the Rhône delta to collapse. This would have launched the wave and carried the sediment from the delta to the center of the lake, where the researchers detected it. The researchers used the geological information gathered in the study to recreate how the wave might have behaved. Their model predicted that a 13-meter-high wave would have hit Lausanne 15 minutes after the rock fall, with an 8-meter-high wave reaching Geneva after 70 minutes."
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Ancient Tsunami Devastated Lake Geneva Shoreline

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  • Oh, cool! (Score:5, Funny)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday October 29, 2012 @03:05PM (#41808855)

    Finally, something that explains what the Deep Purple song "Smoke on the Water" is actually about!

    • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Monday October 29, 2012 @03:54PM (#41809555) Homepage Journal

      Frank Zappa was at the best place around when it happened...

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Until some stupid with a flare gun, burned the place to the ground!

        (which was later fortuitously extinguished by said tsunami)
    • Re:Oh, cool! (Score:5, Informative)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday October 29, 2012 @04:45PM (#41810231) Homepage Journal

      Wikipedia is your friend. [wikipedia.org]

      The lyrics of the song tell a true story: on 4 December 1971 Deep Purple had set up camp in Montreux, Switzerland to record an album using a mobile recording studio (rented from the Rolling Stones and known as the Rolling Stones Mobile Studioâ"referred to as the "Rolling truck Stones thing" and "the mobile" in the song lyrics) at the entertainment complex that was part of the Montreux Casino (referred to as "the gambling house" in the song lyric). On the eve of the recording session a Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention concert was held in the casino's theatre. In the middle of Don Preston's synthesizer solo on "King Kong", the place suddenly caught fire when somebody in the audience fired a flare gun into the rattan covered ceiling, as mentioned in the "some stupid with a flare gun" line.[7][8] The resulting fire destroyed the entire casino complex, along with all the Mothers' equipment. The "smoke on the water" that became the title of the song (credited to bass guitarist Roger Glover, who related how the title occurred to him when he suddenly woke from a dream a few days later) referred to the smoke from the fire spreading over Lake Geneva from the burning casino as the members of Deep Purple watched the fire from their hotel. The "Funky Claude" running in and out is referring to Claude Nobs, the director of the Montreux Jazz Festival who helped some of the audience escape the fire.

      Claude Nobs (2006), the "Funky Claude" mentioned in the songLeft with an expensive mobile recording unit and no place to record, the band was forced to scout the town for another place to set up. One promising venue (found by Nobs) was a local theatre called The Pavilion, but soon after the band had loaded in and started working/recording, the nearby neighbours took offence at the noise, and the band was only able to lay down backing tracks for one song (based on Blackmore's riff and temporarily named Title nÂ1), before the local police shut them down.

      Finally, after about a week of searching, the band rented the nearly-empty Montreux Grand Hotel and converted its hallways and stairwells into a makeshift recording studio, where they laid down most of the tracks for what would become their most commercially successful album, Machine Head.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "In ad 563, more than a century after the Romans gave up control of what is now Geneva, Switzerland, a deadly tsunami on Lake Geneva poured over the city walls.

      Pics or it didn't happen.

  • Was it an earthquake or did something fall into the lake?

  • it reached all the way to the Sugar Shack!
  • by Celarent Darii (1561999) on Monday October 29, 2012 @03:31PM (#41809215)
    The history of this event is actually quite interesting in itself. There are even ancient writers that describe it. One was Bishop Marius, the bishop of Avenches and later Lausanne (547-594), who was actually neighbor to this event.

    In this year, the enormous mountain of Tauredunum in the territory of the Valais, collapsed so suddenly that it engulfed the neighboring fortress as well as the villages and all the inhabitants thereof. The lake was so engorged that along the length of 60 miles and width of 20 miles on both sides of the river there was great loss of life in the ancient towns, both of man and beast. It destroyed also many sanctuaries with the people and violently destroyed the bridge in Geneva, the mills and even penetrated into the city where many people died

    (Quick translation from P.C. Basilii anno XXII. Ind. XI) What the mountain 'Tauredunum' corresponds too in modern geographical terms is somewhat disputed.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday October 29, 2012 @03:37PM (#41809307)

    In 1963, a landslide into the reservoir behind the Vajont Dam caused a massive wave to jump the dam, causing massive damage and casualties: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vajont_Dam [wikipedia.org].

    So worrying about stuff falling into lakes in Switzerland, is probably a good idea.

    • In 1963, a landslide into the reservoir behind the Vajont Dam caused a massive wave to jump the dam, causing massive damage...

      Maybe they should stop using giant enemy crabs to hold up their dams.

    • > So worrying about stuff falling into lakes in Switzerland, is probably a good idea.

      This probably applies to non-swiss lakes as well.
  • by harvey the nerd (582806) on Monday October 29, 2012 @05:25PM (#41810671)
    Every few decades, it gets much worse in Lituya Bay [wikipedia.org], Alaska.
    Also BBC Nature [youtube.com]: Mega Tsunami - Alaskan Super Wave - Amazing Survival
  • The biggest hazard for the lake Geneva (Leman lake actually) would be from the various large dams in the upper Rhône valley. Should one of them collapse, it would be ad 563 all over again.

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