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A tsunami spawned by the Japan earthquake washed away houses and cars in Miyagai Prefecture.
In light of Friday's tsunami following the Japan earthquake, find out how the killer waves are caused, what the warning signs are, and how to respond when a tsunami threatens.
A huge tsunami spawned by the magnitude-8.9 quakea€”one of the largest ever recordeda€”rocked Japan's eastern coast, killing hundreds of people, according to the Associated Press. Scientists say that a great earthquake of magnitude 9 struck the Pacific Northwest in 1700 and created a tsunami that caused flooding and damage on the Pacific coast of Japan. The Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 caused waves as high as 30 feet (9 meters) in some places, according to news reports. The most damaging tsunami on record before 2004 was the one that killed an estimated 40,000 people in 1782 following an earthquake in the South China Sea.
North Atlantic tsunamis include the tsunami associated with the 1775 Lisbon earthquake, which killed as many as 60,000 people in Portugal, Spain, and North Africa. Many people were killed by the Indian Ocean tsunami because they went down to the beach to view the retreating ocean exposing the seafloor. Boat owners may want to take their vessels out to sea if there is time and if the sailors are allowed to do so by port authorities. Scientists are able to calculate arrival time of a tsunami in different parts of the world based on knowledge of water depths, distances, and when the event that generated the tsunami occurred.
But the powerful shock wave of energy travels rapidly through the ocean, sometimes as fast as a commercial jet.


The enormous energy of a tsunami can lift giant boulders, flip vehicles, and demolish houses. In 1883 some 36,500 people were killed by tsunamis in the South Java Sea, following the eruption of Indonesia's Krakatoa volcano.
Some were generated locally and others were the result of events far away, such as the 1775 earthquake near Portugal.
If you see the ocean receding unusually rapidly, that's a good sign that a tsunami may be on its way. Experts believe that a receding ocean may give people as much as five minutes' warning to evacuate the area. Do not assume that because there is minimal sign of a tsunami in one place it will be like that everywhere else.
Stay away from rivers and streams that lead to the ocean as you would stay away from the beach and ocean if there is a tsunami.
Tsunamis can cause rapid changes in water level and unpredictable, dangerous currents in harbors and ports. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami traveled as far as 3,000 miles (nearly 5,000 kilometers) to Africa, arriving with sufficient force to kill people and destroy property. In other places tsunamis have been known to surge vertically as high as 100 feet (30 meters). This may be accompanied by much underwater turbulence, sucking people under and tossing heavy objects around.


But tsunamis have been generated in other bodies of water, including the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas, and the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.
If you hear of an earthquake be aware of the possibility of a tsunami and listen to the radio or television for additional information. A tsunami wave train may come as a series of surges that are five minutes to an hour apart.
Geological Survey, and the Federal Emergency Management Administration to initiate a program to predict tsunamis more accurately.
An international warning system for tsunamis in the Indian Ocean was launched in June 2006.
Remember that an earthquake can trigger killer waves thousands of miles across the ocean many hours after the event generated a tsunami. As a tsunami traverses the ocean, a network of sensitive recorders on the sea floor measures pressure changes in the overhead water, sending the information to sensors on buoys, which in turn relay the data to satellites for immediate transmission to warning centers.



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