What is a tsunami?
A tsunami is a series of waves created when a body of water, such asan ocean, is rapidly displaced. Earthquakes, mass movements above or below water, some volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions, landslides, underwater earthquakes, large asteroidimpacts and testing with nuclear weapons at sea all have the potential to generate a tsunami. The effects of a tsunami can be devastating due to the immense volumes of water and energy involved. Sincemeteorites are small, they will not generate a tsunami.
A tsunami can be generated when converging or destructive plate boundaries abruptly move and vertically displace the overlying water. It isvery unlikely that they can form at divergent (constructive) or conservative plate boundaries. This is because constructive or conservative boundaries do not generally disturb the verticaldisplacement of the water column. Subduction zone related earthquakes generate the majority of all tsunamis.
Generally are caused by earthquakes, less commonly by submarine landslides, infrequently bysubmarine volcanic eruptions and very rarely by a large meteorite impact in the ocean. Submarine volcanic eruptions have the potential to produce truly awesome tsunami waves. The Great KrakatauVolcanic Eruption of 1883 generated giant waves reaching heights of 125 feet above sea-level, killing thousands of people and wiping out numerous coastal villages.
Not all earthquakes generatetsunamis. To generate tsunamis, earthquakes must occur underneath or near the ocean, be large and create movements in the sea floor. All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in thePacific Ocean there is a much more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along the margins of the Pacific Ocean.
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