Tuesday, May 20, 2008


The term tsunami comes from the Japanese meaning harbor ("tsu", 津) and wave ("nami", 波). [a. Jap. tsunami, tunami, f. tsu harbour + nami waves. - Oxford English Dictionary]. For the plural, one can either follow ordinary English practice and add an s, or use an invariable plural as in Japanese. Tsunamis are common throughout Japanese history; approximately 195 events in Japan have been recorded.

A tsunami has a much smaller amplitude (wave height) offshore, and a very long wavelength (often hundreds of kilometers long), which is why they generally pass unnoticed at sea, forming only a slight swell usually about 300 mm above the normal sea surface. A tsunami can occur at any state of the tide and even at low tide will still inundate coastal areas if the incoming waves surge high enough.

Tsunamis are often referred to popularly as tidal waves. This term is inaccurate because tsunamis are not related to tides and its use is discouraged by geologists and oceanographers; however, it is worth noting that the term tsunami is no more accurate because tsumanis are not limited to harbours.

No comments: