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What is the difference between a tsunami and a tidal wave?

Although both are sea waves, a tsunami and a tidal wave are two different and unrelated phenomena. A tidal wave is the wave motion of the tides. A tidal wave is a shallow water wave caused by the gravitational interactions between the Sun, Moon, and Earth. ("Tidal wave" was used in earlier times to describe what we now call a tsunami.) Tsunamis are ocean waves triggered by large earthquakes that occur near or under the ocean, volcanic eruptions, submarine landslides, and by onshore landslides in which large volumes of debris fall into the water. 

 

Learn more:

 

Tide and Current Glossary from the NOAA

 

Tsunami Vocabulary and Terminology (NOAA)

 

Tags: Seismology, Tsunamis, Earthquakes, Water, Seismic