When movement along a fault moves the seafloor upward, water is also pushed upward and becomes tsunami waves. As the waves approach shallower water, they become higher.
Click on image for full size
How Tsunamis Form
A tsunami is a series of waves generated in an ocean or other body of water by a disturbance such as an earthquake, landslide, volcanic eruption, or meteorite impact. The picture at the left shows how an earthquake can generate a tsunami in the overlying water.
Undersea earthquakes, which typically occur at boundaries between Earth’s tectonic plates, cause the water above to be moved up or down. Tsunami waves are formed as the displaced water, which acts under the influence of gravity, attempts to find a stable position again.
Undersea landslides, which can be caused by large earthquakes, can also cause tsunami waves to form as water attempts to find a stable position.
Undersea volcano eruptions can create enough force to uplift the water column and generate a tsunami.
Asteroid impacts disturb the water from above, as momentum from falling debris is transferred to the water into which the debris falls.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games
section of our online store
includes a climate change card game
and the Traveling Nitrogen game
You might also be interested in:
The expression "on solid ground" is often used to describe something as stable. But sometimes the solid ground underfoot is not stable. It moves as Earth’s tectonic plates move. Sometimes it moves gradually....more
Many forces cause the surface of the Earth to change over time. However, the largest force that changes our planet’s surface is the movement of Earth's outer layer through the process of plate tectonics....more
1. Tsunamis that strike coastal locations in the Pacific Ocean Basin are almost always caused by earthquakes. These earthquakes might occur far away or near where you live. 2. Some tsunamis can be very...more
This picture shows a part of the Earth surface as seen from the International Space Station high above the Earth. A perspective like this reminds us that there are lots of different things that cover the...more
Like the other inhabitants of the desert, birds come up with interesting ways to survive in the harsh climate. The sandgrouse has special feathers that soak up water. It can then carry the water to its...more
Deserts are full of interesting questions. How can anything survive in a place with hardly any water? Why is it so dry to begin with? You can find at least one desert on every continent except Europe....more
You can find insects almost anywhere in the world. So it should be of no surprise that there are plenty of insects in the desert. One of the most common and destructive pests is the locust. A locust is...more