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Tsunami Animation - Shoaling

As the tsunami leaves the deep water of the open ocean and approaches the shallower waters near the coast, it slows down and may grow in height depending on the shape of the seafloor. A tsunami that is unnoticeable by ships at sea may grow to be several metres or more in height near the coast. Our example tsunami is now 1.5 metres high with a wavelength of 100 kilometres and is moving at about 400 kilometres an hour.

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Title Description
Tsunami Animation - Subduction Generation
As the Australian plate slowly pushes under the Eurasian plate, massive stresses build up in the crust. These stresses also cause the Eurasian plate to be slowly forced upwards - part of the process that builds the mountains and volcanoes of Indonesia, as well as creating the many earthquakes felt in that region of the world each year. When the stresses get too great, the plates will suddenly slip causing massive movements in the seafloor. The part of the crust nearest to the fault zone rapidly moves upwards by a metre or so, lifting the entire body of water above it. A hundred kilometres away the opposite may happen: the seafloor drops and the ocean above it also falls. These two movements (the sudden rise and fall of the seafloor hundreds of kilometres apart), combine to cause a series of tsunami waves which move away from the line of the fault in both directions.    PLAY
Tsunami Animation - Propagation
As the tsunami moves across the open ocean it is almost undetectable on the ocean surface. In this example, the tsunami waves are only about half a metre high but have a wavelength of 200 kilometres. Travelling at speeds of up to eight or nine hundred kilometres an hour (the speed of a commercial passenger jet), it will take each wave about 15 minutes to pass a slow moving ship.   PLAY
Tsunami Animation - Shoaling
As the tsunami leaves the deep water of the open ocean and approaches the shallower waters near the coast, it slows down and may grow in height depending on the shape of the seafloor. A tsunami that is unnoticeable by ships at sea may grow to be several metres or more in height near the coast. Our example tsunami is now 1.5 metres high with a wavelength of 100 kilometres and is moving at about 400 kilometres an hour.   PLAY
Tsunami Animation - Subduction Inundation Crest
Depending on whether the first part of a tsunami to reach the shore is a crest or a trough, it may appear as a rapidly rising or falling tide, and in some cases the tsunami may appear as a series of breaking waves. People near the beach may also hear a roaring sound, like an approaching train. In this example, the first crest of our tsunami arrives without warning and inundates the beach and low lying land causing extensive damage. After the first wave, the water will draw back and then the second and third waves will repeat the process at 15 to 20 minute intervals. The first wave may not be the biggest. Reefs and offshore islands may help to protect the coast from the devastating effect of a tsunami.   PLAY
Tsunami Animation - Subduction Inundation Trough
As the Australian plate slowly pushes under the Eurasian plate, massive stresses build up in the crust. These stresses also cause the Eurasian plate to be slowly forced upwards - part of the process that builds the mountains and volcanoes of Indonesia, as well as creating the many earthquakes felt in that region of the world each year. When the stresses get too great, the plates will suddenly slip causing massive movements in the seafloor. The part of the crust nearest to the fault zone rapidly moves upwards by a metre or so, lifting the entire body of water above it. A hundred kilometres away the opposite may happen: the seafloor drops and the ocean above it also falls. These two movements (the sudden rise and fall of the seafloor hundreds of kilometres apart), combine to cause a series of tsunami waves which move away from the line of the fault in both directions.    PLAY
Tsunami Animation - Landslide Generation
Landslides can happen on the seafloor, just like on land. Areas of the seafloor that are steep and loaded with sediment are more prone to undersea landslides, such as the edge of the continental slope. When an undersea landslide occurs (perhaps after a nearby earthquake) a large mass of sand, mud and gravel can move down the slope. This movement will draw the water down and may cause a tsunami that will travel across the ocean.   PLAY
Tsunami Animation - Volcanic Generation
Tsunamis can be produced from volcanoes in a number of ways. During a volcanic eruption, hot fast moving bodies of gas and rock (known as pyroclastic flows) can travel into the ocean, pushing the water outwards and creating a tsunami. In other eruptions, the volcano may collapse inwards or produce large landslides, both of which can cause tsunamis. More than 90 volcanic tsunamis have been recorded worldwide in the last 250 years. The 1883 Krakatau eruption in Indonesia caused tens of thousands of deaths, including 77 about 800 kilometres away from the eruption. The effect of the tsunami was reported up to 10 kilometres inland and one large ship was raised 10m above sea level and carried 3 kilometres inland.   PLAY