GEORGE BERNARD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GEORGE BERNARD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Tsunami. Artwork of the steamship La Plata, caught in a tsunami that hit the island of St. Thomas, part of the Virgin Islands, West Indies, on 18 November 1867. The wave measured upwards of 18 metres. Often wrongly termed "tidal waves", tsunamis are generated by an abrupt physical displacement of the seabed. This is typically caused by undersea earthquakes, large volcanic eruptions or subsidence of the ocean floor. Over deep ocean, the mass of uplifted water appears as a broad and low but fast-moving disturbance. Over shallow coastal seas, however, the velocity of the wave drops and the amplitude increases, producing an enormous wave capable of immense destruction.
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