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 3—Amplification

Several things happen as the local tsunami travels over the continental slope. Most obvious is that the amplitude increases. In addition, the wavelength decreases. This results in steepening of the leading wave--an important control of wave runup at the coast. Note that the first part of the wave reaching the local shore is a trough, which will appear as the sea receeding far from shore. This is a common natural warning sign for tsunamis. Note also that the deep ocean tsunami has traveled much farther than the local tsunami because of the higher propagation speed. As the deep ocean tsunami approaches a distant shore, amplification and shortening of the wave will occur.


Image Dimensions: 425 x 131

Location Taken: US