More on Tsunamis

What is a tsunami?

A tsunami (pronounced tsoo-nah-mee) is a wave train, or series of waves, generated in a body of water by a disturbance that moves the whole water column. Earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, explosions, and even the impact of cosmic bodies, such as meteorites, can generate tsunamis. Tsunamis can savagely attack coastlines, causing devastating property damage and loss of life.

What are paleotsunamis?

Tsunamis occurring prior to the historical record or for which there are no written observations are called paleotsunamis.  Paleotsunami research is based primarily on the identification, mapping, and dating of tsunami deposits found in coastal areas, and their correlation with similar sediments found elsewhere locally, regionally, or across ocean basins.  In one instance, the research has led to a new concern for the possible future occurrence of great earthquakes and tsunamis along the northwest coast of North America. In another instance, the record of tsunamis in the Kuril-Kamchatka region is being extended much further back in time. As work in this field continues it may provide a significant amount of new information about past tsunamis to aid in the assessment of the tsunami hazard (Source: IOC tsunami glossary).


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Link to old UW informational site on tsunamis