Underwater earthquake and tsunami, illustration

Underwater earthquake and tsunami, illustration

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Credit: CLAUS LUNAU/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Underwater earthquake and tsunami. Illustration of a large underwater earthquake creating a hump of seawater that flows out to either side (arrows), causing tsunamis on nearby coasts. The vertical movement of the seabed on a fault line (usually a subduction zone) displaces the water above it in what is called a megathrust earthquake. The waves move rapidly (hundreds of kilometres an hour) in the open sea. As they approach shore, water recedes from the coast as the slowing waves bunch up in shallow areas. A large mass of water several metres high then rolls ashore as a tsunami, causing immense damage and destruction.

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