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Physics of a Tsunami



As we all know, Tsunamis are waves. Specifically, they are water waves that form in the ocean, where the depths of the water average 4 km. Displacement of water following a huge release of energy from, say, an earthquake or a cosmic body impact creates a wave or a series of waves that have a wavelengths on the order of hundreds of kilometers long. Although they usually have relatively small amplitudes of about one meter, the volume of water and speeds achieved by the waves are what creates the devastation and destruction we unfortunately see in our world. A water wave is a combination of both transverse and longitudinal waves. As a result, the water molecules move in an elliptical pattern, and this is what makes them so interesting. Now let us look for a moment at what makes these water walls so dangerous. As incredible as this sounds, a tsunami of wavelength 500km traveling at the average speed of a tsunami at speeds of over one hundred miles an hour in a depth of water about 4km generates about 1/50 the energy of an atomic bomb!!! :eek::eek: Considering that a tsunami stretches over hundreds of kilometers, we can see the energy released in such a quake is capable to destroy whole towns in the surrounding coasts, and since a tsunami can travel over long distances without losing much energy, it is capable of bringing destruction to far away places as well.



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Natural disasters are always amazing! The fact that these events can at some times be stronger that some of the most powerful weapons available on the earth is truly stupefying.

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