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If big earthquake causes tsunami in the Aegean, it will reach coast in 10-15 minutes, says professor

If an earthquake measuring over 7 on the Richter scale causes a tsunami in the Aegean, people will have just 10-15 minutes to react until the wave slams on the coast, said Costas Synolakis, Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Crete, during a speech at an event at the Academy of Athens, where he was admitted as its 45th regular member.

“As we will not have enough time, we need to have several reaction scenarios ready in advance and make the right preparation, so that from the moment the tsunami is detected, the Civil Protection and other relevant services will be able to make good use of the time available,” he said.

Synolakis said that many regions of Greece do not have tsunami risk maps and where those do exist (eg Crete), they tend to be quickly forgotten. He said the ultimate goal of everyone?s efforts must be “to never witness in Greece scenes like those in Thailand after the 2004 tsunami.”

“After the economic crisis, we will face the effects of climate change,” he said, noting however that the term “biblical disaster” often simply “masks the responsibilities of competent authorities”.

He said that the biggest tsunami to affect the region in recent times was in July 1956, following a 7.7-magnitude earthquake, which hit many Aegean islands.

Synolakis holds a BS, MS and PhD from the California Institute of Technology. His research has focused on tsunamis, inundation field surveys, numerical and analytical modeling, and hazard assessment, mitigation and planning, hydrodynamic pressures on dams and wave runup.

His research on the effects of earthquakes, tsunamis and extreme sea floods is international, as he has organized or participated in 31 field missions in 20 countries around the world. -via

According to Tsunami Alert System, one devastating Tsunami takes place in the  Mediterranean Sea every century.

Tsunamis can occur in European waters due to earthquakes caused by the African Plate drifting northwards underneath the Eurasian Plate.

Ten percent of all tsunamis worldwide occur in the Mediterranean. On average, one disastrous tsunami takes place in the Mediterranean region every century. Geological research and historical records report of many powerful tsunamis that have taken the lives of thousands over the ages. Greece and southern Italy are mostly affected.

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historical pictures: Tsunami in Amorgos, south Cyclades

9 July 1956: The best documented and most recent tsunamigenic earthquake in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey is the one that occurred near the south-west coast of the island of Amorgos, killing 53 people, injuring 100 and destroying hundreds of houses. The waves were particularly high on the south coast of Amorgos and on the north coast of the island of Astypalaea. At these two places, the reported heights of the tsunami were 25 and 20 m, respectively.

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