Term Paper: Tsunamis a Succinct Definition

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[. . .] A combination of earthquake, fire and tsunami centered around Lisbon, Portugal killed 60,000 people in 1755."( Tsunamis) A further factor that is not often realized is that tsunamis can travel further upstream via costal estuaries and rivers, causing extensive damage further inland.

2. Warnings and Precautions

While there are warning systems in place in regions of the world, yet tsunamis are still difficult to predict with absolute accuracy.

Despite the fact that tsunami warning systems have been in place since 1950, deaths still result from tsunami, especially when the source of the earthquake is so close to a coast that there is little time for a warning, or when people do not heed the warning or follow instructions associated with the warning. "( Tsunami)

This was the case with the Sumatran tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004. However it is reported that there was considerable foreknowledge of the possibility of this devastating tsunami. "Just two weeks before the Asian catastrophe, scientists revealed the threat of a megatsunami in the Pacific Ocean that could be triggered by a subsea landslide. ( Tsunami) One of the issues that this recent disaster has raised is the importance of effective warning systems. There is an effective warning system in place in the Pacific Ocean, and, with recent events in mind, officials in India are in the process of creating a similar warning system for their region. The United States is also planning to set up a global tsunami warning system. (Heilprin. John.2005) At present tsunami warnings originate from two agencies: the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (WC/ATWC) is responsible for tsunami warnings for California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska, and The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) is responsible for providing warnings to international authorities, Hawaii, and U.S. territories within the Pacific basin. ( Tsunami)

The effect of this recent tsunami on the region as well as on the global geological structure of the earth is still being investigated. European scientists have stated that they suspect that the recent earthquake which initiated the tsunami has left a "scar on the on Earth's gravity field. " "The magnitude 9.3 earthquake has already been said to have shortened the day by fractions of a second, shifted the North Pole by an inch, and made the planet less fat around the middle." (The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog)

In preparing for the eventuality of tsunamis, monitoring and warning systems are essential in order to provide enough time for the coastal population to tale evasive action. Another factor is education about the nature and potential of tsunamis, so that the populace can avoid unnecessary panic and deal adequately with the situation as it arises. Evacuation plans that are well constructed can also help save lives.

Another factor is the building of walls to restrict the tsunami. Japan for example has begun building tsunami walls of up to 4.5m (13.5 ft) high in front of populated coastal areas. However, this is often only of limited value, due to the extreme height of the tsunami water surge. ( What are tsunamis?)

A further aspect that may prove to the very useful in the future with regard to tsunami warnings is the use of animals as indicators of approaching tsunamis. As the recent Sumatran tsunami showed, animals seem to posses an innate warning system that alerts them to these events. There were almost no animals killed in the devastating tsunami bear Sumatra. " ... scientists are beginning to investigate the possibility that animals may have the ability to sense subsonic Rayleigh waves from an earthquake before a tsunami strikes.

Known as Rayleigh waves (for Lord Rayleigh, who predicted their existence in 1885), these vibrations move through the ground like waves move on the surface of the ocean. They travel at 10 times the speed of sound. The waves would have reached Sri Lanka hours before the water hit." (Kenneally)

Scientists also point out that humans have similar sensors that can detect these Rayleigh waves in our joints, known as pacinian corpuscles. This may be a method of detecting and therefore avoiding the destruction of tsunamis in the future.

Bibliography

Heilprin. John. U.S. Aims to Form Tsunami Warning System. Live Science. 2005. Accessed May 7, 2005.

Kenneally. Surviving the Tsunami. Slate. 2004. Accessed May 8, 2005. http://www.slate.com/id/2111608/

Nelson A. Natural Disasters. May 5, 2005. http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:EYVXv1unor0J:www.tulane.edu/~sanelson/geol204/tsunami.pdf+Tsunami+where+occur& hl=en& start=2& client=firefox-a

Rosenberg, M. Prepare for Tsunami. May 7, 2005.

http://geography.about.com/od/physicalgeography/a/tsunami.htm

The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog) April 27, 2005. Accessed May 8, 2005) http://tsunamihelp.blogspot.com/2005/04/sumatran-quake-left-scar-on-earths.html#111454818057262795

Tsunamis. May 5, 2005. http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:AYzol4gn7ZsJ:training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/downloads/9-Tsunamis-IG-Rev2.doc+Tsunami+where+occur& hl=en& start=11& client=firefox-a

What are tsunamis? Natural Hazards org. May 5, 2005. http://www.naturalhazards.org/investigate/tsunamis/

Wikipedia: Ocean Earthquake. May 6, 2005. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Indian_Ocean_earthquak

Wikipedia: subduction. May 5, 2005. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subduction

Wikipedia: Tsunami. May 6, 2005. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsunami [END OF PREVIEW]

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