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I.

What is a tsunami
a.A tsunami is a very long ocean wave
generated by sudden displacement of the
sea floor or of the oceanic mass
b.The displacement of an equivalent volume
of water generates the tsunami
II. Terminology
a.The term tsunami is a Japanese word
meaning harbor wave
b.It was so named because the wave is
harmless until it enters a harbor
c. It is frequently called a tidal wave, but it
has nothing to do with tides
III. Hazards and risks of tsunamis
a.Tsunamis can hit with little or no warning
b.4,000 people have been killed between
1990 and 2000
c. The most prone areas are those associated
with earthquakes and volcanoes (mainly
subduction zones)
IV. Locally-generated tsunamis
a.The subduction zone of Cascadia has
potential for very large offshore quakes (M
8)
b.There is a great danger of locallygenerated tsunamis here, since they
travel so fast
c. Many large cities are found on the coast
V. Structure of a wave

VI.

VII.

VIII.

IX.

a.Wavelength, , can exceed 200 km


b.normal ocean waves have wavelengths of
about 100 m
c. trough; peak; wave height, h; amplitude
Velocities in deep water
a.Tsunamis travel very quickly relative to
normal ocean waves
b.This is particularly the case in open water,
where velocities increase with water depth
c. Velocities can reach 1,000 km/hr in open
ocean (normal ocean wave: ~90 km/hr)
d.Thus, velocities are about 10 times
higher for tsunamis
Shallow water
a.In shallow water, the tsunami waves pile
up
b.As a result, velocities and wavelengths
decrease...
c. but at the same time, amplitudes can
increase enormously...
Amplitudes
a.In deep water, wave amplitudes are
generally less than 1 meter
b.but in shallow water, amplitudes can
reach 40 meters or more above normal
sea level
Arrival of a tsunami on a coast

X.

XI.

XII.

XIII.

a.The wave will break when its height


exceeds ~one seventh (1/7) of its
wavelength
b.so some very long waves actually may
not break
c. initially, there may be a rise or fall
(drawdown) in sea level (which may
attract people, to their great misfortune)
Long wavelengths and the coast
a.Due to its long wavelength, it may take a
long time for a tsunami wave to crest
b.The wave then may remain high for several
minutes
c. And it may take a while (hours) for the
crests of successive waves to reach the
shoreso dont go surfing !
Wave run up complicated
a.This depends on several factors:
b.water depth
c. sea floor profile
d.shape of coastline (focusing of energy,
tsunamis travelling up rivers
Causes of tsunamis - all involve displacement
of water
a.Earthquakes
b.Volcanic activity
c. Landslides
d.Meteorite impacts
Earthquakes
a.Mainly vertical crustal movements

b.so strike-slip faults perhaps less


hazardous
c. ...although these too can trigger mass
movements such as landslides
XIV. Damage due to tsunami
a.Waves often full of debris (trees, cars,
pieces of wood etc.)
b.As the wave recedes, the debris drags
more stuff with it
c. Can recede as much as a km out to see,
leaving shoreline empty with flopping fish,
boats, etc. on the bottom
XV. Detecting a tsunami
a.Pressure recorder on bottom of ocean
b.Buoy to communicate readings via satellite
c. Tsunami Warning Centers issue warning
XVI. Tsunami Warning Centers
a.Hawaii and Alaska
b.When EQ considered capable of generating
tsunami, send warning with estimated
arrival time
i. Once tsunami hits somewhere, tsunami
watch established to monitor tide
gauges and ocean buoys
XVII. Tsunami Warning
a.When warning is issued low lying areas
are evacuated
b.U.S. Coast guard issues warnings over
marine frequencies

XVIII.

XIX.

c. Some places have sirens


Response to tsunami
a.Requires good emergency planning and
preparation
b.an educated and trained public
c. which has access to information
d.so the dissemination of this info needs to
be efficient and reliable
Personal mitigation
a.Run (dont walk) to higher ground
b.Tell your family and friends
c. Never go to the beach to watch tsunamis