Source: Emmett O’Regan, Unveiling the Apocalypse, Prophecy in Catholic Tradition, Seraphim Press, (July 7, 2011)

On the 12th of October 2000, the BBC’s flagship documentary series Horizon aired a programme that was to cause a considerable amount of controversy in the world of geophysics. Subtitled “Mega-tsunami: Wave of Destruction,”the documentary elaborated how the volcano Cumbre Vieja on the Canary island of La Palma poses an enormous risk to the eastern coastline of the Americas. The documentary was based on the combined research of S.N. Ward of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at the University of California and S.J. Day of the Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre at University College, London, who hoped to prove that Cumbre Vieja has the potential to cause one of the greatest natural disasters ever known to human civilisation.

Ward and Day’s research shows how the inside of Cumbre Vieja is honeycombed with fissures caused by the rising of molten magma heating and vaporizing water which then erodes the inside of the volcano. This phenomenon has severely weakened the internal structure of the volcano, making it extremely unstable. During its last eruption in 1949, the southern volcano caused a massive crack to appear, and the entire western portion of Cumbre Vieja slipped a few metres towards the Atlantic Ocean. In 2001, Ward and Day put forward a scientific paper showing how that the entire western flank will eventually give way, possibly even during its next eruption; sending 500 thousand million tonnes of rock crashing into the ocean.[222] Ward and Day’s research, which took other examples of this phenomenon into account, suggested that the impact of this “lateral collapse”would generate a colossal wave—dubbed a “mega-tsunami,”which could reach a local amplitude of between 650–1500 metres. This wave would then rapidly travel westwards reaching a speed of approximately 720kph. Although it would diminish in size by the time it made landfall on the eastern seaboard of America, it could still be as high as 50 metres (to give a sense of perspective, the statue of liberty is 93 metres tall), devastating everything in its wake up to 25km inland.

In comparison with this projected scenario, the Indian Ocean tsunami that occurred on 26th December 2004, reached a height of only 24m at Bandeh Aceh—the region worst affected by the disaster, which was totally obliterated. If this event unfolds in the manner that Ward and Day have projected, then this “mega-tsunami”would be the greatest natural disaster in recorded history.[223]

The portion of the Apocalypse which prophesies the downfall of the eschatological “Babylon”is heavily influenced by Chapter 51 of the Book of Jeremiah, which foretold the destruction of the ancient city of Babylon. It is worth quoting the relevant areas below in comparison with the Book of Revelation to see how the writer of the Apocalypse takes Jeremiah’s prophecy of the destruction of Babylon and reinterprets it as the destruction of the leading world power during the eschatological age:

“Flee from the midst of Babylon; let every one save his life! Be not cut off in her punishment, for this is the time of the Lord’s vengeance, the repayment he is rendering her. Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, making all the earth drunken; the nations drank of her wine; therefore the nations went mad. Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken; wail for her! . . . (vv 6–7)[224]

“Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, declares the Lord, which destroys the whole earth; I will stretch out my hand against you, and roll you down from the crags, and make you a burnt mountain. No stone shall be taken from you for a corner and no stone for a foundation, but you shall be a perpetual waste, declares the Lord. (vv25–26)[225]

How Babylon is taken, the praise of the whole earth seized! How Babylon has become a horror among the nations! The sea has come up on Babylon; she is covered with its tumultuous waves . (vv41–42)

A voice! A cry from Babylon! The noise of great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans! For the Lord is laying Babylon waste and stilling her mighty voice. Their waves roar like many waters; the noise of their voice is raised, for a destroyer has come upon her, upon Babylon; (vv54–56)

Fig. 18 The island of La Palma, home to the volcano Cumbre Vieja. Could this be the “great mountain burning with fire”that is thrown into the sea, mentioned in the Book of Revelation?

Fig. 19 A computer model developed by geologists S.N. Ward and S.J. Day shows how the collapse of Cumbre Vieja could generate a mega-tsunami that would devastate the eastern seaboard of the Americas. The projected course of the wave is indicated by the dark area.

We can see that the prophecy of the destruction of Babylon in the Book of Jeremiah transcends its immediate context, and echoes the destruction of the eschatological “Babylon”at the end of time—a fact which is established by John’s reinterpretation of this event in the Apocalypse. It is also interesting to note that the Book of Jeremiah tells how Babylon will be destroyed by the sea—which would be rather curious indeed, given that the ancient city of Babylon was totally land-locked.

Recommended further reading: Emmett O’Regan, Unveiling the Apocalypse, The Final Passover of the Church, Seraphim Press; 2nd edition (September 19, 2016)

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