Tsunamis are mysterious, devastating natural events. They occur under very specific circumstances, and when they do hit, they have the power to devastate lives. These huge, cataclysmic ocean events are, however, scientific marvels – which are still being studied fervently to this day. Here are some truly interesting facts about the tsunami.
A tsunami is more than just a big wave out of the ocean. In fact, it’s a cluster of several. You will generally find a tsunami occurs when there has been seismic activity under the water, or if there has been a landslide nearby.
However, other disasters are known to trigger tsunamis. They generally emerge in the Pacific Ocean and can trigger through earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
The name ‘tsunami’ is Japanese, which translates roughly into English as ‘harbour wave’.
When a tsunami hits, it hits quickly. A tsunami can travel around 800km per hour, and this can even go undetected before it reaches a shoreline.
Tsunamis can vary in size a lot. Some are 30 feet tall and can be devastating once they reach civilisation. Others, however, are only a few feet high, and you can barely notice them out at sea.
The biggest tsunamis, however, can be as tall as 100 feet, even more. It is these wave trains which will, of course, cause the most concern.
A tsunami is not just devastating on impact. Not only does it have the power to destroy communities and kill people, its after-effects can cause widespread disease and malnutrition. This, it’s believed, is due to the immense amount of salt a colossal wave can sweep into a community.
A huge tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004 travelled to 11 different countries, across East Asia and Africa. It’s thought to have claimed more than 283,000 lives.
However, the US is also at risk. Specifically, the state of Hawaii is always on high alert. They generally expect at least one big tsunami annually. However, even bigger wave trains can land every six to seven years, meaning Hawaiian communities need to be especially protective.
Believe it or not, tsunamis don’t lose their energy as they move across expanses of water. Coupled with their immense speed, this explains why a huge tsunami can affect so many different countries in one go.
Tsunamis are also extremely long, as well as often being very tall. They can stretch as long at 100km in length.
Tsunamis have been around for centuries, even millennia. Ancient Greek writings speak of underwater earthquakes, and scientists believe they go back even before human civilisation started building. Some believe that an ancient meteorite struck the Earth billions of years ago, causing one of the very first tsunamis of their kind.
If you ever get caught in a tsunami, you should never try to swim. The best thing you can do is float with the current – by holding onto an object, if you can, while the disaster persists. It is always best to let the water direct you.
Do you know any strange or interesting facts about tsunamis that we’ve missed? Share them in the comments section below!