Tsunamis

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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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  • 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 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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  • 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 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 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 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Q: Where do tsunamis hit?

    A: The majority of tsunamis occur in the Pacific Ocean in an area commonly known as the "Ring of Fire." The Ring of Fire has a high level of seismic activity that often triggers volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis.
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  • Q: When do tsunamis happen?

    A: Tsunamis happen when earthquakes, landslides or volcanic eruptions disturb the ocean floor. Most tsunamis occur when there are earthquakes at tectonic plate boundaries. When the ocean floor at the boundary rises or falls, it moves the water above and creates the huge waves that become tsunamis.
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  • Q: What are some tsunamis that hit China?

    A: As of August 2014, China has not had any significant tsunamis in over 200 years. Historical records suggest a tsunami in 1782 devastated China, killing 40,000 people. In 1765, an estimated 27-foot wave from another tsunami swept up to 10,000 people out to sea. Storm surges are more common than tsunamis in China. A storm surge occurs when a cyclone creates a single wall of water.
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  • Q: Where are tsunamis most likely to occur?

    A: Tsunamis are most likely to occur in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. Tsunamis are most commonly formed from undersea earthquakes that result in a sudden rise or fall of the Earth's crust under the ocean.
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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: 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: How do tsunamis affect the Earth?

    A: Tsunamis affect the Earth in several ways: on land, they cause habitat disruption, flooding and alter landscapes, and produce deadly, dangerous rip currents at sea. The extent of damage tsunamis cause varies depending on the storm size and location of landfall. Tsunamis potentially cause vast flooding in low-lying land areas, and alter natural waterways, changing the shape and flow of rivers and streams.
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