A tsunami, also called a tsunami wave train, and at one time incorrectly referred to as a tidal wave, is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, usually an ocean, though it can occur in large lakes. Tsunamis are a frequent occurrence in Japan; approximately 195 events have been recorded. Owing to the immense volumes of water and the high energy involved, tsunamis can devastate coastal regions.
Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions (including detonations of underwater nuclear devices), landslides glacier calvings and other mass movements, meteorite ocean impacts or similar impact events, and other disturbances above or below water all have the potential to generate a tsunami.
For what to do before, during and after a tsunami, see FEMA website.
Text and image source: Wikipedia.org
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