The tsunami that struck
The tsunami that struck
Image courtesy: New York Times online
Actually, a tsunami is not a single wave, but a series of waves and is therefore, sometimes called a 'wave train'. In the case of the tsunami that struck on December 26, 2004 too, there were three waves, which struck at an interval of approximately 20 minutes. Usually, the first tsunami wave is the least destructive too, as is corroborated by survivors of tsunami waves in Andaman and
Tsunamis can be generated by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, nuclear explosions and major landslides or even by the impact of meteorites. Earthquakes occurring on the ocean floor, measuring more than 6-6.5 on the Richter scale, usually cause tsunamis. Interestingly, an earthquake is in itself the first natural warning of an impending tsunami. However, tsunamis themselves are determined not by the magnitude of the earthquake, but by the type of fault through which the earthquake is generated.
Harbour waves 'Tsunami'
Image courtesy: ABC news online
Is tsunami prediction really possible?
This really is million-dollar question, as of today. Though tsunamis do follow a certain pattern, it is not uniform for all regions and areas. As the epicenters of most of the tsunamigenic earthquakes take place deep below in the oceans, an accurate measurement of its geophysical and geochemical precursors, which could act as a warning for an impending tsunami, is a difficult and indeed a far-fetched proposition, given the technology existing as of today.
If proper parameters of historic tsunami determinism are drawn up, it is possible to predict a reasonable time frame for the recurrence of a tsunami. However, even then, given the fact that earthquakes on lands too can be predicted only with a reasonable degree of accuracy, accurate prediction of a tsunami is still some distance away. Of course, the loss of life and property can be minimised.
To accurately predict a tsunami, various parameters of the source of the tsunami have to be drawn up in 'real time'. The time lag between the prediction of a tsunami based on a study of these parameters would effectively leave very little time to act on the warning of an impending tsunami. Seismic parameters – viz the earthquake's magnitude, the depth of the water, parameters of the fault line, besides a host of other factors like data connected to the sea level have to be taken into account.
Tsunamis have been a rare occurrence in the Indian Ocean, as the seismic activity is relatively lesser than in the
It is in this context that the demand for aligning with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) based in
Moreover, what holds good for the Pacific Ocean system may not necessarily hold good for the
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