Attention getter: It is my sincere Hope that none of you have been unfortunate enough to witness a tsunami firsthand, but again if you have count yourself lucky enough to have lived to tell about it. To date, tsunamis account for more deaths as compared to any other natural disaster outside earthquakes.
A tsunami is a series of water waves that have a wavelength that is extremely long. Tsunami is caused by geophysical disturbances that are impulsive which tend to displace the water within a short period. Seismic fault displacement of the sea floor results in the occurrence of large tsunamis. The occurrence of large tsunamis is also caused by volcanic eruptions, landslides and the impact of asteroids or meteorites. Earthquakes cause a tsunami if it is of sufficient force and when there is earth movement that is violent which cause sudden and substantial displacement of a large amount of water. In the United States and other Pacific Rim nations earthquakes usually result in the occurrence of tsunamis which cause more deaths and damage as compared to the seismic ground motion by itself (Glassman, 2005).
A seismic sea wave can cause the generation of multiple fronts that tend to continue even after it strikes the land. This is caused by the tsunami energy that is reflected back to the ocean. The variations of the coastline geography can also change the forward motion of the tsunami. At times a tsunami usually produces some coastal-trapped waves that are referred to as the edge waves. The waves usually move forward and backward in a manner that is parallel to the shore. The differences in amplitude and surge can cause secondary waves to have a greater force and height as compared to the first wave of the tsunami. It is always advisable for people to stay away from the coast for several hours after the striking of a tsunami.
According to research carried out by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the giant sea waves result from landslides beneath the ocean, earthquakes, meteorite impacts and volcanic eruptions that occur underwater. Most tsunamis usually occur in the Pacific Ocean, but they can still occur anywhere that a landslide or an earthquake have displaced a large amount of water. For example on December 26, 2004, the most destructive tsunami occurred in the Indian Ocean which was caused by an earthquake near the Indonesian island of Sumatara. The earthquake causes the movement of a large area of land of about ten meters under the water resulting in the displacement of the water. The tsunami affected the coastlines of 11 countries around the Indian Ocean. There was a huge destruction of property and loss of lives. Approximately 230,000 lives were lost in 14 countries ranging from Africa to Thailand (Iverson, & Prasad, 2007).
Stages of Tsunamis
The life cycle of tsunamis consists of four main stages. The first stage is the initiation stage. At this stage a part of the seafloor usually goes up and then drops down. This results in pushing of the water that is above it up and down as well. The energy that is generated by the up-down movement is then distributed horizontally resulting in the production of the tsunami wave (Glimsdal, Pedersen, Langtangen, Shuvalov, & Dypvik, 2007).
The next stage in the life cycle of the tsunami is the split stage. At this stage, the first tsunami usually divides into a wave that moves out to Deep Ocean and starts traveling towards the coast. The speed of the wave tends to increase depending on the depth of the water whereby a deep-ocean tsunami usually travels faster as compared to the local waves.
The amplification phase is the third phase that occurs in the life cycle of a tsunami. At this stage, the wave usually moves over the continental shelf. This phenomenon occurs with both the deep-ocean and local tsunamis. The amplification causes the tsunami waves to be closer to each other and longer as well. This results in the channel between peaks which is referred to as trough to be the first part of the wave that reaches the shore of the ocean. This is one of the sign that a tsunami is about to occur.
The run-up stage is the final stage in the cycle of a tsunami. At this stage, the wave's peak travels onshore. The run-up stage acts as a measurement of the height of the water that is above the sea level. Tsunamis tend to act like fast-moving tides that are strong with surges that are forceful and sea-level changes that is rapid. The strong currents carry large amounts of debris which cause the most damage.
In conclusion, a tsunami is a series of waves that are generated in a water body that is caused by an impulsive disturbance that displaces the column of water vertically. Some of the causes of tsunamis include landslides, volcanic eruptions impact of cosmic bodies such as meteorites, explosions, and earthquakes. The four main stages in the life cycle of a tsunami are initiation, split, amplification and run-up stage. Tsunamis can cause devastating loss of life and damage to property.
Glassman, J. (2005). Tsunamis and other forces of destruction.
Glimsdal, S., Pedersen, G. K., Langtangen, H. P., Shuvalov, V., & Dypvik, H. (2007).
Tsunami generation and propagation from the Mjolnir asteroid impact. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 42(9), 1473-1493.
Iverson, L. R., & Prasad, A. M. (2007). Using landscape analysis to assess and model tsunami damage in Aceh province, Sumatra. Landscape Ecology, 22(3), 323-331.
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