Q:

How do tsunamis affect the Earth?

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Quick Answer

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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Full Answer

Tsunamis form in tropical waters. They generate strong currents prior to making landfall, which increase in speed and strength as they head towards shore. Tsunamis form from large underground earthquakes in the ocean. These earthquakes generate smaller but powerful waves ahead of the tsunamis. The forceful movement of these waves changes the landscape beneath the surface of the water too, destroying coral reefs, uprooting aquatic vegetation and displacing organisms as they approach shore.

After crashing, tsunamis create devastating impacts. They take the lives of humans and animals, and often generate substantial amounts of debris. Tsunamis cause significant economic disruption in addition to creating environmental impact. They disrupt the livelihoods of fishermen, sailors and others relying on maritime activities for income. Tsunamis also impact agricultural output of coastal areas upon making landfall. They bring excessive amounts of salt to shore, which in turn alters the composition of coastal soils and often inhibits growth.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    When do tsunamis happen?

    A:

    Tsunamis happen when earthquakes, landslides or volcanic eruptions disturb the ocean floor. Most tsunamis occur when there are earthquakes at tectonic plate boundaries. When the ocean floor at the boundary rises or falls, it moves the water above and creates the huge waves that become tsunamis.

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  • Q:

    Where do tsunamis happen most?

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    Tsunamis occur with the most frequency in the Pacific Ocean and around Indonesia. This is because of the properties of the Pacific Rim; it has a high number of active submarine earthquake zones, which are a major factor in the occurrence of tsunamis. However, it is also possible for tsunamis to occur in other places. The Mediterranean Sea and the Caribbean Sea are also both susceptible to tsunamis.

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  • Q:

    What are some tsunamis that hit China?

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    As of August 2014, China has not had any significant tsunamis in over 200 years. Historical records suggest a tsunami in 1782 devastated China, killing 40,000 people. In 1765, an estimated 27-foot wave from another tsunami swept up to 10,000 people out to sea. Storm surges are more common than tsunamis in China. A storm surge occurs when a cyclone creates a single wall of water.

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  • Q:

    How are tsunamis measured?

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    Tsunamis are measured by their runup,which is the difference between an observed sea level and the distance the tsunami waters reach on shore. This is generally measured once the danger has passed, so debris and destruction of plant life are often used as gauges of runup.

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