In August, published a story about thedanger that an unstable volcano in the Canary Islands posedfor the United States, Canada, much of the European AtlanticCoast and the Caribbean.

Now scientist Bill McGuire of the Benfield Grieg HazardReswearch Center has told reporters that the danger posed bythe Cumbre Vieja volcano is serious. The volcano eruptsfrequently, and at some point a large part of its flank,which extends into the ocean, will collapse. It could happenin a year or a thousand years, but the problem is that noeffort is being made to monitor the volcano and thus, if thecollapse took place, there might be no warning at all untilwaves up to a hundred feet high began striking land.

Seven to ten hours after the volcano’s flank collapsed,waves sufficient to destroy New York would be makinglandfall along the US eastern seaboard.

In 1949, a piece of the volcano the size of a small islandthreatened to slide into the ocean. Since then, it has beenslowly collapsing, and in 1971 another eruption furtherloosened it. Dr. McGuire said that a further eruptioncould cause it to break off. The volcano eruptsevery 25 to 200 years.

Monitoring of Cumbre Vieja would not be costly, and theproper equipment could be set up in a few months. Propermonitoring might give substantial warning, from days to weeks.

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