Monday, December 22, 2014

Article - Super Typhoon Shoved Car-Size Boulders Onto Philippine Beaches

Super Typhoon Shoved Car-Size Boulders Onto Philippine Beaches
By Becky Oskin December 20, 2014 12:30 PM

SAN FRANCISCO — Boulders the size of stretch limousines littered beaches near the city of Tacloban in the Philippines after Super Typhoon Haiyan pounded the region in November 2013.

The towering stones provided a rare look at the way intense storms can demolish coastal communities, researchers said here on Tuesday (Dec. 16) at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting. The surprising findings: freak waves that were as powerful as tsunamis shoved the enormous limestone rocks.

"If we didn't know this occurred from a typhoon, people would have started drawing tsunami maps," said Andrew Kennedy, a coastal engineer at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana who counted hundreds of boulders during a damage survey soon after Haiyan hit. "There are so many, and they went so far."

On Calicoan Island in the country's Eastern Samar province, the storm transported scores of giant rocks, some traveling from the ocean nearly 600 feet (180 m) inland, and carried uphill 33 feet (10 m), Kennedy said.

On islands in southeast Samar, where the storm made landfall, smaller chunks of limestone were plucked from offshore coral reefs and tossed onto the beach, said Max Engel, a coastal scientist at the University of Cologne in Germany, who conducted a separate damage study. These "small" rocks measured between 13 to 33 feet (4 to 10 m) in size.

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