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Catalina Island Sinking, Could Cause Tsunamis

According to a Stanford graduate student, the jet-setters who live in Marina Del Rey should don their scuba gear: Catalina Island is sinking, and that may trigger a tsunami that would leave them submerged.

Chris Castillo studied underwater images of Catalina made by Stanford University, and concluded that Catalina could be completely submerged–in three million years.

The images revealed a huge underwater landslide from half a million years ago off of the island’s northeastern shore. Another landslide like that could trigger a tsunami that would affect Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Castillo pointed out that the side of the island that is sinking faces the mainland. He told the Los Angeles Times, “It’s still something that could do significant property damage, especially for the marinas…. If you see something that could be dangerous, you need to find out more about it.”

The California Geological Survey’s tsunami program manager, Rick Wilson, was unfazed by Castillo’s projections, saying he was less worried about 500,000-year-old landslides than submarine landslides in the last 10,000 years.

Castillo is not the first person to suggest that Catalina is sinking; another researcher postulated similar sentiments in 1897.

Castillo’s opinion opposes the conclusion of a 2012 U.S. Geological Survey study, which stated that Catalina Island was rising. Its lead author, geologist Randall Schumann, posited that the island appears as if it is sinking because sea levels have risen since the last Ice Age.

He wrote, “Our analysis suggests that Santa Catalina Island has recently experienced, and may still be experiencing, relatively rapid uplift, causing intense landscape rejuvenation that removed nearly all traces of marine terraces by erosion.”

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