Tsunami formation

Tsunami formation

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Credit: GARY HINCKS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Tsunami formation. Artwork showing the formation of a tsunami following an underwater earthquake (upper left). The seabed has moved vertically upwards (red arrow). The displacement of the water above the seabed produces a series of powerful waves (concentric red circles). These waves move rapidly (hundreds of kilometres an hour) in the open sea, passing harmlessly under boats (centre). As they approach a shoreline (lower right), they slow down and bunch up, sometimes towering tens of metres above the original sea level. A large mass of water crashes ashore as a tsunami, causing immense damage and destruction, and then dragging debris and bodies out to sea. If enough warning is given, people can flee inland or to high ground.

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