Multi-method observation and analysis of a tsunami caused by glacier calving
- Institute of Geography, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
Abstract. Glacier calving can cause violent tsunami waves which, upon landfall, can cause severe destruction. Here we present data acquired during a calving event from Eqip Sermia, an ocean-terminating glacier in west Greenland. During an exceptionally well-documented event, the collapse of 9 × 105 m3 ice from a 200 m high ice cliff caused a tsunami wave of 50 m height, traveling at a speed of 25–33 m s−1. This wave was filmed from a tour boat at 800 m distance from the calving face, and simultaneously measured with a terrestrial radar interferometer and a tide gauge. Tsunami wave run-up height on the steep opposite shore at a distance of 4 km was 10–15 m, destroying infrastructure and eroding old vegetation. These observations indicate that such high tsunami waves are a recent phenomenon in the history of this glacier. Analysis of the data shows that only moderately bigger tsunami waves are to be expected in the future, even under rather extreme scenarios.