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The science of Tsunamis

Hazard Management played sort of a ‘mythbuster’ role to a widely held perception that Cayman’s lack of a sizable continental shelf makes it impervious to Tsunami threat.

HMCI’s Simon Boxall told Cayman 27 that’s not exactly the case.

Tsunamis travel over the deep open ocean in long wave lengths at great speeds. When a Tsunami reaches shallower waters, the friction slows it down. With nowhere to go and water still coming, it just builds up.

He pointed to Grand Cayman’s ten square miles of shallow waters in the North Sound and other parts of the island with shallow areas, and said even though we are surrounded by some of the region’s deepest waters, Tsunamis can still be a threat.

“We just don’t know for sure, but in terms of our historical accounts, we don’t have any clear evidence of a tsunami, but I believe that the threat does exist nonetheless,” said Mr. Boxall.

Mr. Boxall said a possible Tsunami was documented in 1843 upon Reverend Elmslie’s arrival to the island, an earthquake so strong some it was said to have even been felt out at sea.

Later in 1856, he said another account described Cayman being “sunk” by an earthquake.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to

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Kirk Freeport – January 2019
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