Life of a tsunami

Illustration shows a cross-section of a coastline and how a tsunami wave changes through time.

Detailed Description

Life of a tsunami: Panel 4—Runup

Tsunami runup occurs when a peak in the tsunami wave travels from the near-shore region onto shore. Runup is a measurement of the height of the water onshore observed above a reference sea level.

Except for the largest tsunamis, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean event, most tsunamis do not result in giant breaking waves (like normal surf waves at the beach that curl over as they approach shore). Rather, they come in much like very strong and fast-moving tides (i.e., strong surges and rapid changes in sea level). Much of the damage inflicted by tsunamis is caused by strong currents and floating debris. The small number of tsunamis that do break often form vertical walls of turbulent water called bores. Tsunamis will often travel much farther inland than normal waves.

Details

Image Dimensions: 425 x 171

Location Taken: US

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