Mysterious tsunami hits station in East Greenland | Polarjournal
The station on Ella Oy was the headquarters of the Sirius dog sled patrol in northeast Greenland until 1951. But the settlement of the island goes far back to the Thule culture. BIld: MIchael Wenger

In the northeast of Greenland, near the edge of the world’s largest national park, lies the small triangular island of Ella Ø. Normally a popular destination for expedition ships and researchers, the approximately 136 square kilometer island is now making headlines due to a tsunami. A wave of unknown origin had hit the northern part of the island last weekend and devastated the station of the Sirius dog sled patrol.

Footage posted on Facebook by Arktisk Kommando in Nuuk gives an idea of the force of the impact. Large containers lie on their sides, construction and debris parts and other material lie scattered in the sand on the shore or float in the water. Fortunately, no people were harmed, Arktisk Kommando reports. Members of the Sirius Patrol and Coast Guard vessel Knud Rasmussen had resumed on Tuesday salvage and recovery operations, which have now been completed. The Kommando states in a release that all material was recovered. Repair work is already underway.

Ella Ø is located about 280 kilometers as the crow flies northwest of Ittoqqortoormiit on the eastern side of Greenland. It is located in the middle of the Kong-Oscar fjord system, one of the largest in the world, and is about 136 square kilometers in size. The station is located on the north side, actually well protected from any dangers looming from the sea side. Image: Michael Wenger / Google Maps

The reasons for the tsunami are unknown. Arktisk Kommando had been informed last Sunday by the expedition ship Ocean Albatros, which was in the area, that the station located on the island “did not look like normal.” Two days later, a group from the Sirius Patrol and the Knud Rasmussen reached the scene and found evidence that a tsunami had reached some 50 meters inland. The destruction was caused and much was washed into the fjord. A day later, authorities issued an official warning of possible further tsunamis and asked ships still in the area to refrain from landing in the fjord. Clarifications by the authorities revealed that a small earthquake measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale had been registered in the region over the weekend. Whether this was actually the trigger for the wave, however, could not be sufficiently clarified.

In the past, earthquakes have been recorded several times, especially in the southeast of Greenland, the strongest of which was 4.7 on the Richter scale. On the east side, an earthquake measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale was reported in Tasiilaq 30 years ago. However, tsunamis can also occur as a result of glacial eruptions or landslides. Whether this was the case here is not clear.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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