Q:

How do tsunamis affect the Earth?

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Quick Answer

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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Tsunamis form in tropical waters. They generate strong currents prior to making landfall, which increase in speed and strength as they head towards shore. Tsunamis form from large underground earthquakes in the ocean. These earthquakes generate smaller but powerful waves ahead of the tsunamis. The forceful movement of these waves changes the landscape beneath the surface of the water too, destroying coral reefs, uprooting aquatic vegetation and displacing organisms as they approach shore.

After crashing, tsunamis create devastating impacts. They take the lives of humans and animals, and often generate substantial amounts of debris. Tsunamis cause significant economic disruption in addition to creating environmental impact. They disrupt the livelihoods of fishermen, sailors and others relying on maritime activities for income. Tsunamis also impact agricultural output of coastal areas upon making landfall. They bring excessive amounts of salt to shore, which in turn alters the composition of coastal soils and often inhibits growth.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Where do most tsunamis occur?

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    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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  • Q:

    What causes tsunamis to happen?

    A:

    Tsunamis usually occur when earthquakes take place underneath the ocean at tectonic plate boundaries, or when volcanic eruptions or landslides take place in the ocean. Underwater earthquakes cause the ocean floor to fall and rise abruptly, which results in large volumes of water being displaced. This displaced water then forms into massive rolling waves that eventually become a tsunami.

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  • Q:

    What are the effects of tsunamis?

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    Caused by an earthquake on an ocean's bed, a tsunami is one of the deadliest and most destructive natural disasters on Earth. The flooding and associated effects of the tsunami that started in the Indian Ocean in December, 2004 caused the deaths of an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 people across several countries, including India and Indonesia.

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  • Q:

    How do tsunamis happen?

    A:

    According to National Geographic, tsunamis are caused by underwater landslides, volcanic eruptions or the impact of large meteorites falling into the ocean. About 80 percent of all tsunamis happen within the Pacific Ocean's "Ring of Fire:" a geologically active area where tectonic shifts make volcanoes and earthquakes common.

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