Great question! Devastating tsunamis often
occur immediately after large earthquakes. So,
what’s the relationship? It’s actually quite
simple. When an earthquake occurs in the crust
(the hard plates of rock that cover the earth)
beneath the ocean, it sometimes displaces part of
the seafloor. What this means is that when the
crust breaks, the seafloor can move up, down, or
side to side (or a combination of these). When the
seafloor moves up or down, it displaces water,
meaning that it basically pushes it out of the
way. Big earthquakes can move very large parts of
the seafloor, pushing away HUGE volumes of water.
The energy of that water being pushed aside can
cause a tsunami. This doesn’t mean that the water
that is pushed aside travels all the way across
the ocean, eventually breaking on land. It is
actually wave energy that is traveling through the
ocean, moving water as it goes. When the wave
energy reaches the edge of the ocean it can cause
huge waves of water to break onto land.
Sometimes tsunamis are mistakenly called “tidal
waves”. They don’t actually have anything to do
with tides. They are caused by displacements of
the seafloor during earthquakes.
Click Here to return to the search form.