How does a tsunami travel

InfographicInteractive graphic: How does a tsunami arise?

Seaquakes are triggered by subduction

Subduction means the immersion of a heavy, oceanic tectonic plate under a lighter continental plate. At this point the seabed rips open.

When the water column starts to vibrate, waves spread out in all directions. The time interval between two wave crests can be up to two hours. Because the wavelength on the open sea, measured from ridge to ridge, can be between 10 and 100 kilometers. It spreads at up to 1000 kilometers per hour.

Tsunami: masses of water destroy entire regions

The tsunami can thus cross entire oceans within a few hours and spread in a ring shape up to 20,000 kilometers. Therefore, compared to other natural disasters, it can still cause great damage thousands of kilometers from its place of origin.

The closer the wave comes to the mainland, the shorter the distance between the wave crests becomes. As a result, the wave crests get higher and higher. If the wave height in the open sea is usually less than one meter, it can pile up several meters on land. The masses of water often penetrate many kilometers inland and destroy entire regions.

Infographic: This is how a tsunami occurs

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