OSU lab simulates giant waves “for the lulz”

Okay, that’s a fake quote. But someone somewhere was definitely thinking about how cool it would be to learn about these waves. Hopefully without planning to use them for war, but maybe for a waterpark.

Quick crash course on giant destructo waves: there are real tsunamis which are caused by shifts in tectonic plates, and then there are the ‘tsunamis’ triggered by landslides, which are pretty impressive themselves. Scale: the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami went as high as 100 feet in some places. But the biggest landslide tsunami, in Lituya Bay, Alaska, went as high as 1,720 feet.

These guys rode the same kind of wave that OSU can recreate in their lab:
a landslide tsunami.

 

You think something like this might be a little scary? We definitely do. Watch the simulation of the Lituya Bay tsunami. The Lituya Bay tsunami only killed 2 people, while the Indian Ocean tsunami killed over 200,000, but imagine if the Lituya Bay tsunami happened in a place like Hong Kong.

Here's OSU's small-scale tsunami simulation in action. Image from the Gazette Times

One could only hope that the unlucky people, wherever it hit, were prepared.

The folks behind this project, at Oregon State University’s Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory, are civil and environmental engineers who are concerned that something like this will happen in a populated area. The point of the study is to learn more about these kinds of waves, so engineers can figure out where they’re likely to happen, and what to do in order to defend against them.

And while this research would be cool for a new waterpark, it’s probably a bit more productive that it’s being used to keep people safe.

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