East Coast Tsunami: What's the Risk?

Historical undersea landslides in the Hudson Canyon, off the east coast.

Two small tsunamis that struck the Atlantic Seaboard on April 11 and June 13 have oceanographers hot on the trail of a possible undersea landslide in the Hudson Canyon, off the coast of New Jersey.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) ship Okeanos Explorer has been diverted from its previously scheduled survey of mapping the undersea New England Seamount Chain to collect seafloor data that can be compared to another survey in the summer of 2012. Scientists are hoping that they will find some sign of a large landslide which could account for at least one of the tsunamis.

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"It's really puzzling," said oceanographer Uri ten Brink of the U.S. Geological Survey's Woods Hole Field Station, regarding what caused the two events. Both tsunami events were recorded by automatic buoys in the Atlantic. But the situations surrounding them suggest they had two very different causes, he said.

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