Atsunami is a wave (sometimes improperly called a tidal wave) generated by an earthquake that can do substantial damage to property and create considerable loss of life when the wave crashes ashore. Tsunamis are created when an earthquake creates a pressure wave that moves ocean water upward, creating a generally small (sometimes as small as a few centimeters), but highly energetic wave that moves rapidly from the epicenter of the earthquake. The wave can be generated along the entire rupture zone of the earthquake, which, in the case of the 2004 Sumatra earthquake and tsunami, was over 100 kilometers long.

The size of the waves that hit the shore depends on the bathymetry of the coastal area—that is, the contours of the undersea topography. Deeper waters ...

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