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A tsunami (plural: tsunamis or tsunami; from Japanese: , lit. "harbour wave";[1] English
pronunciation: /sunmi/ or /tsunmi/[2]) , also known as a seismic sea wave or as a tidal wave, is a
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. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions (including
detonations of underwater nuclear devices), landslides, glacier calvings, meteorite impacts and other
disturbances above or below water all have the potential to generate a tsunami.[3] In being generated by
the displacement of water, a tsunami contrasts both with a normal ocean wave generated by wind and
with tides, which are generated by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun on bodies of water.

Tsunami waves do not resemble normal sea waves, because their wavelength is far longer. Rather than
appearing as a breaking wave, a tsunami may instead initially resemble a rapidly rising tide, and for this
reason they are often referred to as tidal waves. Tsunamis generally consist of a series of waves with
periods ranging from minutes to hours, arriving in a so-called "wave train".[4] Wave heights of tens of
metres can be generated by large events. Although the impact of tsunamis is limited to coastal areas,
their destructive power can be enormous and they can affect entire ocean basins; the 2004 Indian
Ocean tsunami was among the deadliest natural disasters in human history with at least 290,000 people
killed or missing in 14 countries bordering the Indian Ocean.



Tsunami can be generated when the sea floor abruptly deforms and vertically displaces the overlying
water. Tectonic earthquakes are a particular kind of earthquake that are associated with the Earth's
crustal deformation; when these earthquakes occur beneath the sea, the water above the deformed
area is displaced from its equilibrium position.[25] More specifically, a tsunami can be generated when
thrust faults associated with convergent or destructive plate boundaries move abruptly, resulting in
water displacement, owing to the vertical component of movement involved.


In general, landslides generate displacements mainly in the shallower parts of the coastline, and there is
conjecture about the nature of truly large landslides that end in water. This is proven to lead to huge
effect in closed bays and lakes, but an open oceanic landslide big enough to cause a tsunami across an
ocean has not yet happened since before seismology has been a major area of scientific study, and only
very rarely in human history. Susceptible areas focus for now on the islands of Hawaii and Las Palmas in
the Canary Islands, where large masses of relatively unconsolidated volcanic shield on slopes occur.
Considerable doubt exists about how loosely linked these slopes actually are.


Devastation wrought by Hurricane Ike's meteotsunamic storm surge over the Bolivar Peninsula in 2008.
Some meteorological conditions, especially deep depressions such as tropical cyclones, can generate a
type of storm surge called a meteotsunami which raises water heights above normal levels, often
suddenly at the shoreline.

Man-made or triggered tsunamis

There has been considerable speculation on the possibility of using nuclear weapons to cause tsunamis
near to an enemy coastline. Even during World War II consideration of the idea using conventional
explosives was explored. Nuclear testing in the Pacific Proving Ground by the United States seemed to
generate poor results. Other underwater tests, mainly Hardtack I/Wahoo (deep water) and Hardtack
I/Umbrella (shallow water) confirmed the results. Analysis of the effects of shallow and deep
underwater explosions indicate that the energy of the explosions doesn't easily generate the kind of
deep, all-ocean waveforms which are tsunamis; most of the energy creates steam, causes vertical
fountains above the water, and creates compressional waveforms.[35] Tsunamis are hallmarked by
permanent large vertical displacements of very large volumes of water which don't occur in explosions.

2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea megathrust earthquake that occurred at
00:58:53 UTC on Sunday, 26 December 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra,

The earthquake was caused when the Indian Plate was subducted by the Burma Plate and
triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the
Indian Ocean, killing 230,000 people in 14 countries, and inundating coastal communities with
waves up to 30 metres (100 ft) high.[9] It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded
history. Indonesia was the hardest-hit country, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.

World level problems

With a magnitude of Mw 9.19.3, it is the third-largest earthquake ever recorded on a

seismograph. The earthquake had the longest duration of faulting ever observed, between 8.3
and 10 minutes. It caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 centimetre (0.4 inches)[10]
and triggered other earthquakes as far away as Alaska.[11] Its epicentre was between Simeulue
and mainland Indonesia.[12] The plight of the affected people and countries prompted a
worldwide humanitarian response. In all, the worldwide community donated more than $14
billion (2004 US$) in humanitarian aid.