What are the effects of a tsunami?
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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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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 do you prepare for a tsunami?

    A:

    Before a tsunami is imminent, people living in areas where tsunamis are possible should construct tsunami emergency kits and organize a family communications plan. When a tsunami watch is issued, people should tune into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's weather service, ensure the emergency kit is well stocked, locate family members and prepare to evacuate. When a tsunami warning is issued, everyone should evacuate to higher ground.

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  • Q:

    When was the first tsunami?

    A:

    According to Eden, the first recorded tsunami occurred off the coast of Syria over 4,000 years ago. The Storegga Slides is a famous event that occurred in the prehistoric era that may have been caused by a tsunami.

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  • Q:

    Can we prevent a tsunami?

    A:

    A tsunami is a natural geohazard that is almost impossible to prevent from forming or occurring. Though it cannot be prevented, damage from a tsunami can be reduced through sophisticated early warning systems, effective response and community preparedness. The United Nations Environment Program also suggests that tsunamis cause less damage in areas where there are natural tsunami barriers, such as coastal vegetation, coral reefs and mangroves.

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  • Q:

    How does a tsunami happen?

    A:

    Tsunamis are formed by violent underwater earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, and, rarely, meteor impacts. These events cause sudden and drastic displacement of water, forming massive waves in the process.

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