If Crescent City were in ancient Greece, the inhabitants certainly would think the water god Poseidon had something against them. Tsunamis strike the city harbor with a greater ferocity than other points on the North American shoreline. Indeed, of all the coast, Nov. 15's tsunami essentially was limited to our harbor.

The conclusion some scientists have drawn from this is there's something about the ocean floor geography that makes Crescent City a tsunami's favorite target. Knowing if that hypothesis is true or not would help officials better predict tsunamis for the city, saving loves and potentially property.

Given this, we urge the National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration to take the necessary steps to test this theory and, if it holds up, to install the appropriate warning systems to protect Crescent City and the coastline. We hope Congressmen Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., will further encourage the NOAA to take these steps.

The hypothesis is simple: the series of unique ridges off our coast, creating by faultlines between tectonic plates, wraps tsunami waves toward Crescent City. Our harbor's unique geography amplifies tsunami waves.

Testing the theory will require detailed mapping of the ocean floor, said Lori Dengler, Humboldt State University's Geology Department chairwoman and local tsunami expert. Once the ocean floor is adequately mapped, scientists will be able to understand why larger, more destructive waves follow the smaller waves - as occurred Nov. 15. This, in turn, will allow for better prediction of a tsunami's real threat. If such a system had been in place a month ago, our own county Office of Emergency Services almost certainly would have known following the morning's 5-6 inch tsunami wave that one 12 times larger was on its way in little more than 2 hours.

This would prove beneficial to neighboring communities, especially as tsunamis here can cause rivers to flood in Klamath, Smith River, Brookings and Eureka.

While the mapping and modeling carries a cost, it's far less than the potential loss of lives and repeated destruction of property that our ignorance of tsunamis now allows.


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