Tsunamis

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Tsunamis are caused by undersea volcanoes or earthquakes that push massive amounts of energy through the water. Earthquakes are the most common cause, but landslides can create tsunamis as well.

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  • How are tsunamis measured?

    Q: How are tsunamis measured?

    A: Tsunamis are measured by their runup,which is the difference between an observed sea level and the distance the tsunami waters reach on shore. This is generally measured once the danger has passed, so debris and destruction of plant life are often used as gauges of runup.
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  • How do tsunamis form?

    Q: How do tsunamis form?

    A: Tsunamis are massive waves that form when an ocean is disturbed by an earthquake, landslide, volcanic eruption or other disruptive event. Underwater earthquakes, which occur at the boundaries of tectonic plates, are one of the most common causes of tsunamis. When one plate moves up or down, it displaces water, and it is this displaced water that becomes the tsunami wave.
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  • How is a tsunami formed?

    Q: How is a tsunami formed?

    A: The formation of a tsunami is a direct result of underwater earthquakes. The energy released during underwater earthquakes is transferred to the water, moving it upward and creating huge waves.
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  • What is a tsunami?

    Q: What is a tsunami?

    A: A tsunami is a series of waves generated by a disturbance on the ocean floor. This disturbance can be caused by earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, explosions or meteorites. The waves have very long wavelengths, which can travel hundreds of miles across the ocean. As the waves reach the continental shelf, they can grow to be several meters in height and cause extensive destruction along the coastline.
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  • What causes a tsunami?

    Q: What causes a tsunami?

    A: Tsunamis are caused by undersea volcanoes or earthquakes that push massive amounts of energy through the water. Earthquakes are the most common cause, but landslides can create tsunamis as well.
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  • What is the Japanese tsunami death toll?

    Q: What is the Japanese tsunami death toll?

    A: As of Feb. 10, 2014, the Japanese tsunami death toll is 15,884. On March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m. local time, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake occurred 15.2 miles deep at 231 miles northeast of Tokyo, Japan, causing a tsunami with 30-foot waves that damaged several nuclear reactors in the area.
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  • Where do most tsunamis occur?

    Q: Where do most tsunamis occur?

    A: Tsunamis occur most often in the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Center for Tsunami Research. Areas along the Pacific Rim are most vulnerable due to the frequent earthquakes that occur. Tsunamis also occur less frequently in the Mediterranean Sea.
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  • How do tsunamis affect people?

    Q: How do tsunamis affect people?

    A: While an immediate effect of a tsunami is the destruction of life and property, tsunamis also create a health crisis. Not only do tsunamis wipe out buildings and carry many of the things in their path away, they leave behind a crippled infrastructure that makes it extremely difficult to provide basic services to the people who survived.
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  • Could a tsunami hit New York?

    Q: Could a tsunami hit New York?

    A: Any city located along marine coastal regions could fall prey to a tsunami. However, the chances of a tsunami hitting New York are slim because the Atlantic Ocean is not as prone to the earthquakes which fuel tsunami activity. In order for major tsunami devastation to occur, it needs the right location and specific conditions, such as a strong quake (6.5 and above) as well as shallow coastal waters, which allow wave height to build up.
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  • Where do tsunamis form?

    Q: Where do tsunamis form?

    A: A tsunami begins above an undersea earthquake, landslide or volcanic eruption along the ocean floor, explains Lisa Gardiner of the National Earth Science Teachers Association. In the case of an earthquake, when the movement along a fault moves the seafloor upward, water also pushes upward and becomes a tsunami wave.
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  • How do you prepare for a tsunami?

    Q: How do you prepare for a tsunami?

    A: Before a tsunami is imminent, people living in areas where tsunamis are possible should construct tsunami emergency kits and organize a family communications plan. When a tsunami watch is issued, people should tune into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's weather service, ensure the emergency kit is well stocked, locate family members and prepare to evacuate. When a tsunami warning is issued, everyone should evacuate to higher ground.
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  • How can a tsunami be prevented?

    Q: How can a tsunami be prevented?

    A: No known way to prevent a tsunami from occurring exists. Individuals can take steps to be prepared for a tsunami, and warning systems can help get people out of harm's way if an impending tsunami is predicted.
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  • Where do tsunamis happen most?

    Q: Where do tsunamis happen most?

    A: Tsunamis occur with the most frequency in the Pacific Ocean and around Indonesia. This is because of the properties of the Pacific Rim; it has a high number of active submarine earthquake zones, which are a major factor in the occurrence of tsunamis. However, it is also possible for tsunamis to occur in other places. The Mediterranean Sea and the Caribbean Sea are also both susceptible to tsunamis.
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  • What are the effects of a tsunami?

    Q: What are the effects of a tsunami?

    A: The effects of a tsunami include loss of human and animal life, devastating property damage, severe flooding and disease. There are also environmental effects such as contamination of soil and water, a permanent change to the landscape, solid waste and disaster debris, and hazardous materials and toxic substances.
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  • Q: How long did the Asian tsunami last?

    A: The Asian tsunami was the most deadly in recorded history and lasted for 7 hours on December 24, 2004, beginning when the first waves struck northern Sumatra in Indonesia.
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  • Q: Can we prevent a tsunami?

    A: A tsunami is a natural geohazard that is almost impossible to prevent from forming or occurring. Though it cannot be prevented, damage from a tsunami can be reduced through sophisticated early warning systems, effective response and community preparedness. The United Nations Environment Program also suggests that tsunamis cause less damage in areas where there are natural tsunami barriers, such as coastal vegetation, coral reefs and mangroves.
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  • Q: Can tsunamis be prevented?

    A: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tsunamis are a naturally occurring part of Earth's climate and can't be prevented. The best course of action people can take when dealing with tsunamis is to better prepare for them and minimize the damage that tsunamis inevitably cause. Consistent research and effort is being put into developing the means to help global communities mitigate the devastation of tsunamis.
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  • Q: What does a tsunami sound like?

    A: Witnesses to tsunamis report they make a roaring sound as they approach, similar to the sound of a freight train or a jet airplane. Tsunamis are triggered by underwater earthquakes, which are reported to make similar sounds. A hydrophone captured the sound of the 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan in 2011 and caused a tsunami across the Pacific Ocean, which was like the sound of a rocket taking off.
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  • Q: What are the aftereffects of a tsunami?

    A: According to the Centers for Disease Control, the aftereffects for humans of a tsunami include lack of clean drinking water, loss of shelter and injury from remaining debris. Economically, areas affected by tsunamis struggle to amass funding to repair damaged structures. Those who survive tsunamis often suffer mentally and emotionally.
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  • Q: What caused the Boxing Day tsunami?

    A: The Boxing Day tsunami that occurred on Dec. 26, 2004, was caused by an earthquake of above 9 magnitude in the Indian Ocean. The earthquake was caused by the movement of the Indio-Australian tectonic plate as it subducted below the Eurasian plate, causing the seafloor above it to lift upwards.
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  • Q: When was the first tsunami?

    A: According to Eden, the first recorded tsunami occurred off the coast of Syria over 4,000 years ago. The Storegga Slides is a famous event that occurred in the prehistoric era that may have been caused by a tsunami.
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