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All about Tsunami



Have you ever wondered why tsunamis happen? In this article we’ll give you the facts about these huge waves, so you can better understand what causes a tsunami.

The name tsunami, pronounced soo-nahm-ee comes from two Japanese words; tsu means harbor and nami meaning wave, so tsunami means harbor-wave.

A tsunami is caused when there is a disturbance deep under the ocean such as an earthquake, volcano or a landslide. An underwater earthquake is the most common cause for a tsunami, but not just any underwater earthquake causes a tsunami. The earthquake needs to be a large enough earthquake of around 7.0 magnitude or bigger.

Underwater earthquakes happen because oceanic and continental plates, which are huge areas of the earth’s crust, push into each other and build up pressure. The pressure builds and builds until eventually the oceanic plate slips under the continental plate releasing all that pressure and energy in the form of an earthquake. If you would like to read other tribune articles about earthquakes click here.

If an underwater earthquake is large enough, the ocean floor will make significant movements, therefore the water above the sea floor must move too.

The ocean water is pushed upward causing a large ripple that begins to travel through the ocean. This large ripple, which will become the tsunami, travels at a very fast speed of up to 600 miles per hour.

Because the ocean is so deep, the wave has plenty of room to move, but when it gets near the shore the wave starts to build in height because the water has nowhere else to travel. Eventually the wave will hit the shore and travel far inland.

Eventually the ocean will settle down again, and all the water that came onto land from the tsunami will retreat back into the ocean. Unfortunately such large amounts of water can cause harm to people and property if they have not been warned. The United States is fortunate to have a tsunami warning system that can warn us before a tsunami wave approaches our shores.

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