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 Q:   Ask a Question about Tsunami       
Tsunami Tsunami is a series of waves of extremely long wave length and long period generated in a body of water by an impulsive disturbance that displaces the water.

Tsunamis are primarily associated with earthquakes in oceanic and coastal regions. Landslides, volcanic eruptions, nuclear explosions, and even impacts of objects from outer space (such as meteorites, asteroids, and comets) can also generate tsunamis.

As the tsunami crosses the deep ocean, its length from crest to crest may be a hundred miles or more, and its height from crest to trough will only be a few feet or less. They can not be felt aboard ships nor can they be seen from the air in the open ocean. In the deepest oceans, the waves will reach speeds exceeding 600 miles per hour (970 km/hr). When the tsunami enters the shoa ling water of coastlines in its path, the velocity of its waves diminishes and the wave height increases. It is in these shallow waters that a large tsunami can crest to heights exceeding 100 feet (30 m) and strike with devastating force.

The term tsunami was adopted for general use in 1963 by an international scientific conference.

Tsunami is a Japanese word represented by two characters: "tsu" and "nami". The character "tsu" means harbor, while the character "nami" means wave. In the past, tsunamis were often referred to as "tidal waves" by many English speaking people. The term "tidal wave" is a misnomer. Tides are the result of gravitational influences of the moon, sun, and planets.

Tsunamis are not caused by the tides and are unrelated to the tides; although a tsunami striking a coastal area is influenced by the tide level at the time of impact. Also in the past, the scientific community referred to tsunamis as "seismic sea waves". "Seismic" implies an earthquake-related mechanism of generation. Although tsunamis are usually generated by earthquakes, tsunamis are less commonly caused by landslides, infrequently by volcanic eruptions, and very rarely by a large meteorite impact in the ocean.

Earthquakes generate tsunamis when the sea floor abruptly deforms and displaces the overlying water from its equilibrium position. Waves are formed as the displaced water mass, which acts under the influence of gravity, attempts to regain its equilibrium. The main factor which determines the initial size of a tsunami is the amount of vertical sea floor deformation. This is controlled by the earthquake's magnitude, depth, fault characteristics and coincident slumping of sediments or secondary faulting. Other features which influence the size of a tsunami along the coast are the shoreline and bathymetric configuration, the velocity of the sea floor deformation, the water depth near the earthquake source, and the efficiency which energy is transferred from the earth's crust to the water column.

Tsunami can be generated by any disturbance that rapidly moves a large mass of water, such as an earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide or meteorite impact. However, the most common cause is an undersea earthquake. An earthquake which is too small to create a tsunami by itself may trigger an undersea landslide quite capable of generating a tsunami.

Tsunamis can be generated when the sea floor abruptly deforms and vertically displaces the overlying water. Such large vertical movements of the earth's crust can occur at plate boundaries. Subduction earthquakes are particularly effective in generating tsunamis, and occur where denser oceanic plates slip under continental plates in a process known as subduction.

Sub-marine landslides; which are sometimes triggered by large earthquakes; as well as collapses of volcanic edifices, may also disturb the overlying water column as sediment and rocks slide downslope and are redistributed across the sea floor. Similarly, a violent submarine volcanic eruption can uplift the water column and form a tsunami.

Waves are formed as the displaced water mass moves under the influence of gravity to regain its equilibrium and radiates across the ocean like ripples on a pond.

Since science cannot predict when earthquakes will occur, they cannot determine exactly when a tsunami will be generated. But, with the aid of historical records of tsunamis and numerical models, science can get an idea as to where they are most likely to be generated.

Past tsunami height measurements and computer modeling help to forecast future tsunami impact and flooding limits at specific coastal areas. There is an average of two destructive tsunamis per year in the Pacific basin. Pacific wide tsunamis are a rare phenomenon, occurring every 10 - 12 years on the average.

Tsunamis cannot be prevented or precisely predicted, but there are some warning signs of an impending tsunami, and there are many systems being developed and in use to reduce the damage from tsunamis.

Tsunami - Signs of approaching

- An earthquake may be felt.
- Large quantities of gas may bubble to the water surface and make the sea look as if it is boiling.
- The water in the waves may be unusually hot.
- The water may smell of rotten eggs (hydrogen sulfide) or of petrol or oil.
- The water may sting the skin.
- A thunderous boom may be heard followed by a roaring noise as of a jet plane or a noise akin to the periodic whop-whop of a helicopter, or a whistling sound.
- The sea may recede to a considerable distance.
- A flash of red light might be seen near the horizon.
- As the wave approaches, the top of the wave may glow red.

In instances where the leading edge of the tsunami wave is its trough, the sea will recede from the coast half of the wave's period before the wave's arrival. If the slope is shallow, this recession can exceed many hundreds of metres.
People unaware of the danger may remain at the shore due to curiosity, or for collecting fish from the exposed sea bed.

sources :
Tsunami Info : wikipedia.org
Tsunami Image : seiumi.org

Tags: wave, water, earthquakes

Category: Travel  - ( Travel Archive)

Date Added: 02 April '06

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