Unearthed documents recently discovered in New Zealand have revealed that the nation cooperated with the United States in developing and testing a “tsunami bomb” towards the end of World War II. The plan was to use such a weapon against Japan, destroying small, coastal cities, if the atomic bomb didn’t turn out to be as effective as it was.
New Zealand author and film maker Ray Waru found the documents while searching through his country’s national archives. Going by the code-name Project Seal, the top-secret operation called for the use of thousands of underwater explosions, that, when successful, would result in a large tidal wave. In an interview with The Telegraph, Waru said that it was amazing not only to create a weapon of mass destruction based on tsunami wave, but also that New Zealand seemed to have developed it far enough that it might have really worked.
The project was launched in 1944 after E.A. Gibson, a U.S. naval officer, came up with the idea while watching the waves that were created by underwater blasts used to clear reefs around islands in the Pacific. Tsunami waves have been observed as high as 1,700 feet, and are caused by sudden movement on the ocean floor, such landslides, large volcanic eruptions, or, in the case of the March 2011 disaster in Japan, earthquakes. Researchers believed it would take the detonation of around 2,200 tons of explosives five miles from shore to create a wave that would destroy a coastal community.
Waru’s discovered documents show plans for a total 3,700 bombs to be used in two test locations, one near the island of New Caledonia, north of New Zealand, and the second off the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, near Auckland. The U.S. decided in early 1945 not to move ahead with the project, but Waru’s findings show that New Zealand researchers continued their analysis on how to produce such weapon into the early 1950s.