Tsunamis, often referred to as tidal waves, are a series of ocean waves, called a wave train, caused when an earthquake or other major disturbances like landslides and volcanic eruptions displace hundreds of cubic kilometers of water from its equilibrium position. Pronounced tsoo-nah-mee, Tsunami is a Japanese word that translates into “harbor wave”. Tsunamis can travel across the ocean at up to 805 kilometers an hour.

A tsunami is different from a normal wind-generated wave because of its longer periods and wave lengths. Though used interchangeably, tsunami and tidal wave are not synonymous. This is so because tsunamis have nothing to do with tides.

What causes Tsunamis?

Undersea earthquakes at tectonic plate boundaries, underwater landslides or volcanic eruptions and asteroid impact are some of the factors that cause Tsunamis.

It has bee estimated that earthquakes are responsible for the creations of more than 80% of tsunami in the Pacific Ocean. There is every possibility that landslides can cause tsunami. These undersea landslides are triggered by earthquakes resulting in the displacement of water and increase in the height of Tsunami. Though less common, volcanic eruptions are also responsible for the creation of tsunami. Though rare, the impact of a large asteroid plunging into an ocean may also launch tsunami.

Where do tsunamis occur most often?

Tsunamis can occur in any major body of water. However, they are most common in the Pacific Ocean where tsunamis occur most often. Some 80 percent of tsunamis take place within the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire”. The reason is not far to seek. Pacific Ocean zone is home to volcanoes and underwater earthquakes. Japan, the United States and Chile are some of the countries which have long coastlines on the Pacific Ocean. Needless to say, these countries run the risk of being hit by a tsunami. However, tsunamis can strike any part of the world. In 2004 a massive earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a destructive tsunami that played havoc with the human lives killing over 230,000 people.

Why are tsunamis dangerous?

In deep water, a tsunami moves at great speeds. However, when it approaches shallow water near coastal areas, the tsunami slows down but increases in height sometimes reaching heights of over 30 meters. It can still be moving travelling at a speed of over 50 miles per hour. A gigantic wall of water traveling at such speed can apparently result in widespread damage to the entire population and properties of the coastal cities because .a huge tsunami has the potential of travelling several miles inland.

Tsunami Warnings

Although predicting a tsunami is impossible, once one is generated, it is possible to forecast when a wave will hit land by the use of early detection systems and measurement technologies that are in place in the coastal regions. Subsequently, people are asked to leave the area adjacent to the coast.

It is in the essential fitness of things that people living in the areas near the coasts will do well to remember that the passing of the first wave does not guarantee them safety unless it is officially declared that it is safe to return to the locations that are at the risk of being hit by tsunami.`

Tsunami Questions & Answers:

Question 1: What was the largest Tsunami ever recorded?

Answer 1: The largest ever Tsunami ever recorded was in Alaska in 1958 in Lituya Bay.

Question 2: Where do Tsunamis happen?

Answer 2: A Tsunami can occur in any ocean, however some area’s of the world are more prone to Tsunamis than others. In recent years Asia has been hit particularly bad by large Tsunamis caused by massive earthquakes in the region. The Japan Tsunami in 2011 and the 2004 Tsunami that hit Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and other regions caused devastating damage and thousands of deaths.

Question 3: How fast can a Tsunami travel in the ocean?

Answer 3: A Tsunami can travel at speeds at over 500 mph, as the Tsunami approaches land it will slow down to speeds of around 30 mph or a little less.

Question 4: Who studies Tsunamis? 

Answer 4: A person who studies Tsunamis is called a Seismologist. They also study earthquakes.

Question 5: Can a Tsunami be detected to give early warnings? 

Answer 5: Yes Tsunamis can be detected through the Tsunami warnings centers that are based around the world. They detect seismic movement in the oceans. Once an earthquake has registered the centers will monitor the waters levels in the ocean. If they feel a Tsunami warning should be issued they will do so giving vital time for people living in coastal regions to take precaution and find higher ground or move inland.

Question 6: How can I stay safe in the event of a Tsunami? 

Answer 6: Firstly stick with Mom and Dad. Listen to local TV and radio reports. If an evacuation order is issued leave straight away for higher ground or go as far inland as possible. Do not waste time gathering belongings like your iPad, Laptop, your life is more important. Have a family escape plan prepared and practice. Have a portable medical and supplies kit on the ready in case you need to spend some time on high ground. Have a look at this valuable website: