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In the middle of the night of 29 to 30 September 2009, tremors shook the Earth to the North of the Tonga Islands in the South Pacific. This was a strong submarine earthquake, with a magnitude of 8 on the Richter (1) scale, and it triggered a tsunami, a giant wave which devastated the islands of Tonga and Samoa. In the early hours of 30 September, the wave crashed on to the coasts of Futuna (2), 600 km from the earthquake epicentre. Its force when it hit these islands was the greatest ever previously recorded. An IRD scientist and his research partners (3) measured the impact of this event on the archipelago.
Futuna is located on the circum-Pacific seismic belt, which corresponds to the line of subduction of the various oceanic tectonic plates of the Pacific beneath the Australian, Eurasian and American plates. Futuna lives under the shadow of a strong tsunami hazard. The research should yield an assessment of the danger and lead in the long term to ways of reducing the vulnerability of the archipelago’s inhabitants, who are in severe danger owing to their way of life strongly dependent on marine and coastal activities.
Tungurahua, Cotopaxi, Pichincha: in Ecuador, on either side of the famous Avenue of Volcanoes, rise some of the largest and most famous mountains of fire, doted with evocative names. Built up high at over 5000 m altitude, often covered by glaciers and permanent snow, these mountains overhang the ...