Researching tsunamis in Switzerland

The research team carefully removes
measuring devices from the lake. For several months, nine of these
seismometers lay in watertight containers on the bottom
of Lake Lucerne. Experts at ETH Zurich
and the University of Bern hope that the data will reveal information about movements on the
lake bed and sludge quantities. We measure the slopes
below the water. We look at how much sludge
there is on the slopes. Then we measure how strongly an
earthquake can shake these slopes and how much sludge
is then detached and slides into the
depths of the lake. Then we create a model
of wave propagation. So how does this mudflow
distort the water column? And how does this then create
a tsunami wave? In Switzerland, tsunamis
are a rare phenomenon. The data collected
should help us better estimate this risk. One thing is sure: the impact
of this kind of event would be far worse today
than 400 years ago. Compared with the year 1601,
our infrastructure today is considerably more fragile. We have built more valuable developments
along the shores of lakes. And so we could expect
much greater damage. But with this project, we can hopefully help to
inform the general public that you should move away from the banks of lakes
if an earthquake occurs. In Switzerland, we have never used such modern methods
to investigate lake beds. This project is supported by the National
Science Foundation and costs CHF 2m. An analysis of the actual risk
a tidal wave would represent for lakeside residents should be
available within the next three years.

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