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Sunday, 14 August 2011

Tsunamis - How they occur

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I'm sure almost everyone is familiar with the word 'tsunami' due to the unfortunate occurrences in the past 5 years. But, here lets just try to examine what exactly leads to a tsunami.

Firstly, the word 'tsunami' literally means a 'harbor wave'. So a tsunami is basically just an extraordinarily huge wave. The waves we usually enjoy at the beach are caused by the friction of the wind against the surface of the sea. The wind blows across the sea and makes very small ripples over the water. These small ripples pass their energy to the neighboring water particles, and the energy keeps on accumulating. This process goes on till the waves become big enough for us to play and surf on. 

But those are only the harmless and enjoyable waves. The destructive ones are caused by bigger forces of nature like earthquakes,volcanoes or landslides. When any of them occur, they pass on large amounts of their energy in a very short span of time. This sudden burst of energy results in towering waves that come crashing towards land in speeds exceeding 400km/hr. To get a better understanding, imagine you drop a stone into a pond. Naturally you see tiny waves travelling away form the point where the rock fell. Now imagine you through a bigger rock (say a hill) and drop it into a bigger pond (lets take the sea for example). The same wave effect gets magnified and you have your own tsunami.

Thus due to the nature of the factors responsible for them occurring, tsunamis still remain unpredictable.Hope you have a better understanding now of how tsunamis occur. :-)

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