A quick glance at the map to the right should make it
obvious that, while Malawi has many fine features,
marine access is not one of them. Malawi is
landlocked, and must depend on Tanzania or
Mozambique or both to move goods to and from ports
on the Indian Ocean to the east. However, from a
glass half-full perspective, one might wish to say that
this at least means no danger of tsunamis. Alas, this
viewpoint is a bit myopic - even though inhabitants
and seaports in Mozambique and Tanzania would
bear the brunt of the waves, Malawi would also feel
the economic impact.
As it happens, there are currently no large active
volcanoes looming over Lake Nyasa, so lacustrine
tsunamis generated by a volcanic slope collapse are
unlikely. This is just as well as a fair number of
Malawi's smaller cities would be in danger. As Lake
Nyasa is an African Rift lake, we felt obliged to
analyze the area's seismic history. We were very
troubled to discover that no (zero) Malawi
earthquakes have been recorded before 1976.
Worse, there is considerable dispute about the most
powerful earthquake - it is agreed the event was on
March 10, 1989 with an epicenter north of Chipoka.
However, one source gives the Richter as 6.2 and
another as 6.6. There is agreement that nine people
were reported as killed, about 100 reported injured
and more than 50,000 left homeless.