Tsunami

By Anuj Thakkar

Tsunami

Tsunamis (or Tidal Waves) are series of waves in a body of water caused by the displacement of a large volume of water, generally in an ocean or a large lake. Potential tsunami generators are Underwater Earthquakes, Volcanic Eruptions and other Underwater Explosions.

The History of the Tsunami

The term tsunami, meaning "harbor wave", comes from Japanese roots (津波). While Japan may have created the term, they are by no means the only area to get them. In fact, the Roman Historian Ammianus Marcellinus described such a tidal wave, after the 365 AD tsunami that devastated Alexandria.
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Causes

What generally causes a Tsunami is a natural/unnatural occurrence that displaces a substantial amount of water. Most causes are underwater:


  • Earthquakes (Seismic Activity)
  • Volcanic Activity
  • Landslides (Above Surface Level)
  • Meteorological Conditions
  • Any Other Tectonic Disturbance

2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami

On December 26, 2004, a Tsunami crashed into the West Coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The shock had a moment magnitude of 9.1 - 9.3 and a maximum Mercalli Intensity of IX (Very Violent). The undersea megathrust earthquake was caused when the Indian Plate was subducted by the Burma Plate and triggered a series of devastating tsunamis. These Tsunamis killed between 230,000 - 280,000. Indonesia was the hardest-hit country, but Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand were also hit.

Tsunami Warning Systems

The Tsunami Warning Systems have been implemented in regions with high probability of tsunamis to help citizens prepare for tsunamis and avoid mass chaos. These systems help citizens evacuate to decrease the damage done by the tsunami. The Pacific Tsunami Warning System (based in Honolulu, Hawaii) monitors tsunami and seismic activity around the world, and have saved hundreds of thousands of lives in the process.
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