Famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson issued a serious warning regarding the effects of a deadly asteroid strike on Earth. Aside from the impact, another destructive effect of an asteroid strike would be the massive tsunamis it will trigger.

Back in 2004, astronomers detected an asteroid known as Apophis 99942. After studying the asteroid’s trajectory, they predicted that the 370-meter-wide space rock had a slight chance of colliding with Earth in 2029.

Following a series of studies, astronomers ruled out the possibility of an asteroid impact in 2029. Instead, they noted that Apophis 99942 could hit Earth sometime in 2036 or 2068. According to the astronomers, the possibility of an impact would depend on keyholes in space, which are regions that are heavily affected by the gravitational pull of nearby planets.

If the asteroid passes through a keyhole, the gravitational force could alter its trajectory and nudge it into a direct collision course with Earth.

During a previous public lecture at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco, California, Tyson discussed Apophis 99942’s potential to hit Earth in the future. According to the astrophysicist, if the asteroid goes through a gravitational keyhole, there’s a chance it could hit Earth and crash in an area near Los Angeles.

“We know it won’t hit Earth, we know it will be closer than the orbiting satellites,” he said during the lecture. “But there is a 600-mile zone – we call it the keyhole – and if the asteroid goes through the middle of that it will hit Earth 13 years later.”

“It will hit 500 miles west of Santa Monica,” he added.

Given the size of the asteroid, the direct hit will most likely be equivalent to several atomic bombs going off at the same time. However, aside from the impact, Tyson noted that the asteroid strike could create a massive tsunami that’s capable of wiping out a huge region.

“If it goes through the center, it will plunge down into the Pacific Ocean to a depth of three miles, at which point it explodes, caveating the Pacific in a hole that’s three miles wide,” he said.

“That will send a tsunami wave outwards from that location that is 50 feet high.”

Tyson noted that there will be more than one tsunami if the asteroid crashes on Earth. After the first giant wave, it will be followed by a second one that will be caused by the collapse of the massive crater made by the asteroid in the Pacific Ocean.

The astrophysicist predicted that the tsunamis would level the entire west coast of North America.  

Two Very Different Asteroids Image of two different asteroids captured by NASA. Photo: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL