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History And Scientific Understanding Of Tsunamis

2017 words - 8 pages

Tsunamis are one of the most dangerous natural disasters known to mankind that cause devastating effects on society. Despite the fact that tsunamis are not frequent phenomena, it causes huge causalities once it occurs. The number of deaths could reach 420 thousand a year, accompanied by the destruction of many costal residences. But despite the fact that tsunami damages are inevitable, it can be reduced.
The word tsunami was originated from the Japanese words “Tsu” meaning “harbor”, and “Nami” meaning “wave”. It is believed that ancient Japanese sailors used this word because they were able to predict the arrival of Tsunami huge waves from observing the unusual wave activity nearby harbors. But that is most likely untrue because predicting the time and location of an upcoming tsunami is nearly impossible till this very day (Bernard et al. 3).
In the past, there was some kind of confusion between tsunami and other phenomena that generated similar large waves such as storm waves. Some other people used to think that the tsunamis were tidal waves that are caused by the gravity of the moon and the sun due to the similarity in its appearance to the tides. However, the origin of tsunami differs greatly from the origin of the tides. A tsunami can be generated from different sources (Cartwright and Nakamura 152).
Submarine volcanic action is one of the sources that can generate tsunamis, yet, most of it are born when plates forming earth crust starts moving. The lighter continental plates bury the dense oceanic plates resulting in an abrupt shaking of the ground, a phenomenon known as earthquakes. Most of which are violent but despite how big or small an earthquake is, all are able of generating devastating tsunamis as long as it occurs in the marine regions. Due to this reason, some people use the term “seismic sea wave” to refer to tsunami. This natural occurrence of the movement of tectonic plates triggers huge waves that are capable of wiping out nearby coastal cities within few minutes. It can also spread few miles away from the coast bringing destruction to distant coastal communities.
Earthquakes usually cause deformation on earth surfaces that releases high energies that propagate to the sea surface. The amount of energy released is measured by Richter Magnitude Scale. Due to the variation of earthquake magnitudes, all tsunamis generated by earthquakes have its unique wavelength, wave height and speed. Scientists discovered that the speed of waves is proportional to the square root of the water depth. By the use of a mathematical equation and determining the location and the variation of water depth that waves travel, scientists are capable of knowing the possible time for formation of tsunamis (Bernard et al. 4).
The U.S. Geological Survey uses deep-ocean buoys in the north Pacific to sense and detect the small local sea-level changes by several sensors anchored to the ocean floor. Once a tsunami wave is generated, the sensors will transmit...

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