For centuries people in coastal Louisiana have looked out over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Those waters have provided food and materials needed for our earliest ancestors to forge a life. The Gulf has also been a rich mineral and natural resource provider not only for Louisiana but for the world and the nation. But is it possible those glass-like waters could be hiding an ominous secret?

Bruce Mikels
Earthquake Engineering Research Institute via YouTube

Could it be that unsettled land and tectonic plate movement could cause a sudden upheaval that would send waves higher than houses crashing onto the shorelines of coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas? The answer is not only could it, but it already has. We just weren't around when it happened last.

The most recent report of a tsunami in the Gulf of Mexico came in 1946. There was an 8.1 magnitude earthquake that was centered near the Dominican Republic. That earthquake killed more than 1,800 people and it sent large amounts of water rushing toward the shores of Gulf coastal communities.

No, it wasn't quite the catastrophe of the Fukushima disaster from a few years ago but the ingredients are present for a tsunami to occur in the Gulf of Mexico. You might night have been aware but just a few weeks back there was actually an earthquake reported in the Gulf just to the southeast of New Orleans. The earthquake registered just over 3.0 on the Richter Scale and no tsunami warnings were needed.

So, should you be worried about a tsunami on the Gulf Coast? Not really, while the potential for such a geophysical event makes it possible the likelihood of such a scenario is not thought to be likely at all. In fact, a Gulf of Mexico tsunami is more likely to happen as a result of a hurricane's storm surge or like what happened in 2018 off Naples Florida when a severe thunderstorm offshore drove a large amount of wind-swept water onshore.

I think it's safe to say when it comes to water from the Gulf of Mexico hurricanes will always be Louisiana's largest concern, but just in case you ran out of things to worry about, we thought we'd remind you that there are tsunami evacuation routes posted for Louisiana. Let's hope you'll never need them.

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