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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Q: What happens after a tsunami hits?

    A: After the initial wave hits land, a large wall of water follows closely behind it. The water slams into the land, then immediately begins to recede, taking many objects on land with it.
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  • Q: What are some key facts about the 2011 tsunami in Japan?

    A: The 2011 tsunami in Japan resulted from an earthquake off the coast of Honshu, Japan, that measured 9.0 on the Richter scale, making it the fourth-strongest earthquake in world history. The tsunami devastated Fukushima, Japan, damaging or destroying nuclear reactors and causing the release of radioactive material into the environment. As a result of the tsunami, more than 15,000 people have been confirmed dead, with 2,500 still missing, as of April 2015.
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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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  • Q: What are some tsunami experiments that kids can do?

    A: Recommended tsunami experiments for children are those that demonstrate how a tsunami is created, how far it travels and how large it can become. Materials needed for a tsunami experiment include a measuring tape, a table, a marker, a rubber mallet, a rock and a long, clear plastic container.
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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: Where did the Indian Ocean tsunami occur?

    A: The waves of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, caused by the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake, originated in the open ocean located to the west of Sumatra in Indonesia, where the event claimed 130,736 lives. Other hard-hit countries in the path of the tsunami were Sri Lanka, where 35,322 people died; India, where 12,405 people died; and Thailand, where 5,395 people lost their lives.
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  • Q: How do underwater earthquakes cause tsunamis?

    A: Underwater earthquakes push water upward to create the initial movement, then gravity pulls the water downward, creating the horizontal force that forms the tsunami. The waves travel through the ocean in a similar fashion to ripples created by throwing a stone into a body of water.
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  • How do tsunamis start?

    Q: How do tsunamis start?

    A: Tsunamis start from any large, sudden displacement of water. This includes earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions and the breaking of coastal ice, such as in glaciers or icebergs. Rarely, a large body from space, such as a meteorite, can cause a tsunami.
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