Impact-generated Tsunamis: An Over-rated HazardA number of authors have suggested that oceanic waves (tsunami) created by the impact of relatively small asteroids into the Earth's oceans might cause widespread devastation to coastal cities. If correct, this suggests that asteroids > 100 m in diameter may pose a serious hazard to humanity and could require a substantial expansion of the current efforts to identify earth-crossing asteroids > 1 km in diameter. The debate on this hazard was recently altered by the release of a document previously inaccessible to the scientific community. In 1968 the US Office of Naval Research commissioned a summary of several decades of research into the hazard proposed by waves generated by nuclear explosions in the ocean. Authored by tsunami expert William Van Dorn, this 173-page report entitled Handbook of Explosion-Generated Water Waves affords new insight into the process of impact wave formation, propagation, and run up onto the shoreline.
Melosh, H. J. (Arizona Univ. Tucson, AZ, United States)