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What causes a tsunami?

What causes a tsunami?
Posted at 10:05 AM, Jun 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-15 10:05:32-04

"Hello my name is Emma Rust and I'm a second grader at Gulf Elementary School. My question is how is water involved with tsunamis?"

Most of the time tsunamis are caused by earthquakes below the ocean floor. The earth's tectonic plates rub together causing the underwater earthquake.

The pressure from the earthquake rises and causes a vertical push in seawater. The wave will grow in height as it pushes forward and spreads into shallower water.

This is different from a typical wave caused by wind because that only moves the top layer of water. Tsunamis move the entire column of water from the seafloor to surface.

A majority of tsunamis are caused by earthquakes, but other types of severe weather can cause them too-- including volcanoes, landslides, and asteroids.

In fact, NOAA has been tracking waves called meteotsunamis that impact the east coast.

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