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"How big of a tsunami would be needed to cover Lompoc underwater?"
Question Date: 2001-03-28
Answer 1:

That is a very interesting question. In order for Lompoc to be covered with water, the waves created by the tsunami would have to be much higher than the elevation at Lompoc (104 feet) and they would have to come in at Surf Beach, where the elevation is lower. Tsunami size is dependent on a lot of factors. Tsunamis are formed from seismic events (earthquakes) in the ocean. Therefore, the size of a tsunami when it hits the coast is dependent on the degree/strength and depth of the seismic event, how far away the earthquake hit, and also the height of the tides and waves when the tsunami hits the coast. Imagine (I'm making these numbers up - I don't even know if they are realistic): a 7.2 (on the Richter scale) earthquake occurs 1000 miles offshore of Lompoc. It is the spring tide (highest tides), and persistent winds offshore have formed 20 foot waves at Surf Beach. Waves created by the earthquake offshore "combine" with the high tides and the 20 foot waves, forming 120 foot waves at the beaches in Lompoc. This is still not enough to COVER Lompoc with water, although it would probably cause some flooding in some people's houses. Luckily, tsunamis are not that common on this side of the Pacific ocean!

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