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[Adapted from Sent to Earth]

When purification comes, will it include a "super wave"?

Better known as a tsunami, there are many ways one can occur: through a quake, through an asteroid, by way of a comet -- even an undersea volcano, or collapse of a chunk of island.

In Hawaii, a flank on the big island is slowly splitting, as other chunks have in the ancient past. If it collapsed, it could send a wave to California and perhaps even New Zealand (which was under a tsunami threat due to a quake earlier this week).

Out in the Atlantic is concern for a band of faults near an underwater range of mountains called the Gorringe Ridge, where the sea floor occasionally rises or falls. That could send devastating tsunamis across the shores of Western Europe and down to Africa with backwash in the U.S.

Located at 36.5 north latitude/11 west longitude about 300 miles west of the Strait of Gibraltar (between the Azores and Portugal), it's near the continental margin where the Messejana fault stretches along the St. Vincent Valley and intersects what is known as the Azores-Gibraltar fault -- joining in the very region of Gorringe, a bank that is separated from the divide between the Eurasian and African plates by a deep basin linking two plains.

It's a part of the ocean that is as strange as it is dangerous.

Those few who have paid attention to this threat know that a tsunami had originated here in 62 B.C. and again around 382 A.D. -- and that according to Roman historian Amiano Marcelino, the earthquake and corresponding tsunami sank two islets that were situated near St. Vincent Cape.

The faulting was also responsible for a quake in 1755 that some believed was the most consequential in modern history.

It occurred on November 1 -- All Saints Day -- and as the tremors reached Lisbon they caused massive damage, the ground everywhere -- in the markets, on the countryside -- moving in actual horrifying waves.

Birds had launched in alarm, horses were thrown, and in Lisbon -- at the time one of the world's most powerful cities -- destruction was such that thousands were killed in the first few minutes.

So powerful was the event that it lifted the ocean floor more than thirty feet (tilting the 8,000 feet of water above it), which had caused a tidal wave that washed into Lisbon and smashed coastal fortresses with waves that crested to ninety feet near Algarve and pounded up the Guadalquivir River all the way to Seville.

In Lisbon, where 18,000 structures were felled, there had also been a fire that lasted for three days and caused an Egyptian darkness.

The shocks as well as the tsunami (which had come thirty minutes after the initial shaking) also reached other countries. At the Strait of Gibraltar water suddenly rose. In Amsterdam ships were torn from their moors. There were effects from Norway to Cairo. In Morocco water swept over ancient city walls and there was severe damage in the Azores.

Most peculiar was the effect inland.

Across Europe "the agitation of the water of lakes, ponds, or bays, the swinging of chandeliers in the churches, the variation in the flow of springs or the muddying of their waters" was noted.

In England the water in several canals was visibly disturbed; in Bohemia a major spring overflowed.

There were even reports of effects in Antigua, Martinique, and Barbados, with waves up to 22 feet high.

"According to a notice from Boston, several strong shocks were felt there at 12:30 p.m.," wrote a scientist named Harry F. Reid of the magnitude-8.9 undersea quake. "All Pennsylvania was disturbed by a light shaking. In the neighborhood of Lake Ontario movements of the ground were already noticed in the last days of October; but on November 1 the lake rose with great violence five and a half feet, three times within half an hour."

Scientists estimated that nearly eight percent of the earth had been shaken in a way that could be felt, which meant millions of square miles.

"Before the shock it was not suspected that the effects of an earthquake could be observed at such very great distances," said Reid. "Many of the inland waters of southern, middle, and northern Europe were set in oscillation; the most distant place reporting such a disturbance was Abo in Finland, 3,500 kilometers from the assumed origin. The sea waves were very marked in the Antilles."

As an English merchant who survived it said in a letter, "On a sudden, I heard a general outcry: 'The sea is coming in, we are lost!' Turning my eyes toward the river, which at this place is nearly four miles broad, I could perceive it heaving and swelling in a most unaccountable manner, as no wind was stirring."

Waves washed up to the Celtic Sea and even entered the western end of the Mediterranean.

It was estimated that the tidal wave swept along the entire length of Europe and though hardly noted by colonists, caused water to rise in some fashion along America's coast too.

And so the question now comes: Could this happen again? Could there be a bigger event? Might this be part of the chastisement? Could the water go farther and higher?

There would be massive coastal destruction as well as terrific damage inland from Africa to England. The terror for the U.S.: word that there was a backwash. Something was heading this way too. How high would it be? A couple feet? A monster? Where would it strike? No one would know. There would be a scrambling of pilots. Ships would attempt to make port. From Maine to Virginia to Florida there would be evacuation.

And so we see a prayer need: that God maintain the balance of hidden forces of nature, as we plead His mercy that mankind stop tempting fate.

[resources: Sent to Earth and Tower of Light]

[see also: A tsunami twice height of Eiffel Tower]

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