Q:

What are the effects of a tsunami?

A:

Quick Answer

The effects of a tsunami include loss of human and animal life, devastating property damage, severe flooding and disease. There are also environmental effects such as contamination of soil and water, a permanent change to the landscape, solid waste and disaster debris, and hazardous materials and toxic substances.

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What are the effects of a tsunami?
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Full Answer

Tsunamis are giant waves caused by undersea earthquakes, landslides or volcanic eruptions. The severity of their effects depends on a number of factors, namely the magnitude of the earthquake, landslide or volcanic eruption, along with its distance from shore. Small and undetectable tsunamis occur almost every day with little to no effect, but larger tsunamis have devastating effects to life and land that are often irreversible.

The central effect of large tsunamis is massive loss of human life. With no time to escape, tsunamis cause near instant death, usually by drowning, but also by collapsing buildings, electrocution and more. Since 1850, tsunamis have killed more than 430,000 people. The March 2011 tsunami in Japan left a total of 18,550 people killed and/or missing.

The severe flooding that occurs as a result of a tsunami also damages sewer systems, water supplies and soil. Stagnant and contaminated water leads to malaria and other diseases, causing illness, infection and death to spread rapidly. Soil becomes salinized from sea water and debris, effecting long-term yields of crops.

The tall and fast-moving waves also damage property and permanently alter the landscape, sometimes wiping out entire islands. They destroy everything in their path, including buildings, trees, power lines, bridges, cars, boats and more, leaving behind them a mass of solid waste and debris that is almost impossible to clean up. They also destroy animal life, insects, plants and natural resources. Hazardous materials and toxic substances are also a concern, as asbestos, oil fuel and other industrial raw materials and chemicals often leak as a result of property damage.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How many people died as a result of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami?

    A:

    Over 150,000 people died as a result of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, which is the deadliest tsunami as of January 2015. Out of the 150,000 people who perished during the tsunami, it is believed that up to 50,000 were children. Those who were not killed by being slammed into structures or being crushed by debris were likely swept out to sea when the ocean withdrew.

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  • Q:

    Where do tsunamis form?

    A:

    A tsunami begins above an undersea earthquake, landslide or volcanic eruption along the ocean floor, explains Lisa Gardiner of the National Earth Science Teachers Association. In the case of an earthquake, when the movement along a fault moves the seafloor upward, water also pushes upward and becomes a tsunami wave.

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  • Q:

    How do tsunamis affect the Earth?

    A:

    Tsunamis affect the Earth in several ways: on land, they cause habitat disruption, flooding and alter landscapes, and produce deadly, dangerous rip currents at sea. The extent of damage tsunamis cause varies depending on the storm size and location of landfall. Tsunamis potentially cause vast flooding in low-lying land areas, and alter natural waterways, changing the shape and flow of rivers and streams.

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  • Q:

    Where can you find tsunami pictures?

    A:

    National Geographic magazine has many images of the wreckage caused by tsunamis around the world. Its tsunami photo gallery includes photographs of the disasters in Sri Lanka, Chile and the Indian Ocean.

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