Volcanic Activity on the Canary Islands: Background information when reading The Dark Flood Rises

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The Dark Flood Rises

by Margaret Drabble

The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble X
The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2017, 336 pages

    Feb 2018, 336 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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Volcanic Activity on the Canary Islands

This article relates to The Dark Flood Rises

Print Review

La PalmaFloods both real (due to global warming) and figurative (tides of refugees washing ashore in the Mediterranean and elsewhere) dominate the imagery of Margaret Drabble's novel, The Dark Flood Rises. One of the most memorable discussions involves speculation about volcanic activity on the Canary Islands (where much of the novel's secondary narratives take place) and how a catastrophic volcanic event there could prove cataclysmic elsewhere, including on the other side of the Atlantic.

The Canary Islands, which are part of Spain and are located in the Atlantic Ocean west of Morocco, are a popular tourist destination, especially among Europeans. The islands are volcanic in nature, and are the only place in Spain where volcanoes have been active in modern times. Prior seismic activity has weakened many of the islands' outcroppings, and according to one computer model, a future major volcanic eruption by the volcano Cumbre Vieja could result in a significant landslide that would trigger a tsunami bigger than any previously recorded.

The resulting wave, which could reach as high as fifty meters (165 feet), would be strong enough to travel to the East Coast of the United States and on to Florida and the Caribbean, while also causing catastrophic damage to the west coasts of Africa and Europe. The good news is that early-warning systems and evacuation procedures could give coastal residents hours to escape, as well as additional advance warning of up to several weeks prior to the devastating landslide; the bad news is given the volcano's prior history, such an event could happen any time in the next thousand years or less. However, The Tsunami Society disagrees with this theory and research continues.

Computer model of the possible volcanic eruption of Cumbre Vieja:

La Palma, canary Islands

Filed under Nature and the Environment

Article by Norah Piehl

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Dark Flood Rises. It originally ran in March 2017 and has been updated for the February 2018 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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