Question by Jacob: Could this oil spill cause the sea floor to collapse and create a 20-80 mile high tsunami?
I just heard that this disaster scenario is a possibility and that it could apparently destroy up to 50 miles inland. I hear some people are trying to get out of there because of this and other possible disastrous consequences of the oil spill. Is this a real possibility?
Answer by Earth Man
No. It couldn’t even cause a 1 foot high tsunami. It can’t cause a tsunami at all.
Oil reservoirs are not giant, open caverns within the crust just filled with petroleum waiting to be extracted. They are dense matrices of porous sedimentary rock. When oil is extracted, the rock is still rock, and it still supports itself. Plus, the oil is never fully extracted. Oil companies are *really* lucky if they get 2/3 of the oil from a reservoir.
The absolute worst thing that could happen would be a little surface subsidence on the ocean floor, which is a lowering of the surface over a long period of time. You can see this in the Tuscon area of Arizona, where they are sucking water out of their aquifer too quickly, reducing its ability to support itself.
Nothing suddenly collapses, there will be no tsunami at all. A tsunami requires a rapid displacement of a large volume of water — a draining oil reservoir cannot cause either of these. As large and horrible the gusher is, on a geologic scale it is less than nothing.
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