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What types of tsunamis exist?

Dependent on the distance of the tsunami from its source, it may be classified as a:

  • Local tsunami:

A local tsunami is one that originates from within about 100 km or less than 1 hour tsunami travel time from the impacted coastline. Local tsunamis can result in a significant number of casualties since authorities have little time to warn/evacuate the population. 

  • Regional tsunami:

A regional tsunami is one that is capable of destruction in a particular geographical region, generally within 1,000 km from its source. Regional tsunamis can arrive to affected coastlines within 1-3 hours of being generated, however, as with local tsunamis, due to the limited warning time they can still prove very destructive and deadly.

  • Tele-tsunami/Ocean-wide tsunami/Distant tsunami:

A tsunami originating from a source, generally more than 1,000 km or more than 3 hours tsunami travel time from the impacted coastline is called an ocean-wide or distant or tele-tsunami.  These tsunamis are less frequent, but more hazardous than regional tsunamis, as they usually start as a local tsunami that causes extensive destruction to a shoreline near the source, and the waves continue to travel across an entire ocean basin with sufficient energy to cause additional casualties and destruction on shores more than a 1,000 km from the source. These tsunamis have the ability to cause widespread destruction, not only in the immediate region but across an entire ocean.  All ocean-wide tsunamis have been generated by major earthquakes.

After a Tsunami

  1. If possible, stay tuned to a radio or television to get the latest emergency information.
  2. Once the ALL-CLEAR is given:
    • Help injured or trapped people and call for help, if necessary.
    • Keep out of stagnant water.
    • Open windows and doors to help dry buildings.
    • Stay out of damaged buildings. Return home only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
    • Remove mud while it is still moist to give walls and floors an opportunity to dry.
    • Check food supply and test drinking water.
    • Fresh food that has come in contact with flood water may be contaminated and should be discarded.
    • Check for damage to sewer and water lines.

What is a Tsunami?

A tsunami (tsoo-NAH-mee) is a series of enormous waves caused by a major disturbance of a body of water.  This disturbance can be caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, submarine landslides, coastal rock falls or a large asteroid impacting the ocean. Tsunamis are also known as seismic sea waves and are mistakenly called “tidal waves”.

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