Research links squashed volcanoes to tsunami-causing quakes

By on July 4, 2014

A boat carried inland a month ago by the tsunami still sits in a field, Namie, Fukushima Pref., Japan, April 12 2011 (Credit: S. L. Herman/Voice of America, via Wikimedia Commons)


The earthquakes that cause tsunamis occur in shallow depths and are relatively weak, making them difficult to pick out from the numerous other earthquakes that happen below water. New research from Imperial College London has determined a likely source of these quakes, a discovery that could lead to improved detection and forecasting.

Extinct undersea volcanoes that have sunk below the Earth’s crust can produce abnormally slow and large oscillations on the seafloor when tectonic plates shift. Even at low magnitudes, these movements can produce large tsunami waves up to 10 meters high.

Researchers are collaborating with New Zealand scientists to create a tsunami warning system, and plan to study the geophysical properties of sunken volcanoes in the future.

Image: A boat carried inland a month ago by the tsunami still sits in a field, Namie, Fukushima Pref., Japan, April 12, 2011 (Credit: S. L. Herman/Voice of America, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

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