Question of the Week

In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Japan, tsunamis are on people's minds.  How much do you know about them? 

Take this brief tsunami quiz and find out:

1.  Name 4 geologic events that might cause a tsunami.

2.  Tsunamis are also called wave trains because they are a series of waves, not just one wave.  How far apart in time can they be?

3.  In deep ocean water, how fast can a tsunami travel?

4.  Suppose you are in a boat in the middle of the ocean and a tsunami approaches.  What would happen?

5.  What happens when the tsunami approaches land?

6.  Has Virginia ever experienced a devastating tsunami?

Answers:
1.  Tsunamis may be caused by earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions or a meteor impact in the ocean.
2.  Tsunami waves can be as far as one hour apart.
3.  In deep ocean water, tsunamis can travel as fast as 500 miles per hour (800 kilometers per hour), as fast as a commercial jet.
4.  Not much.  In the open ocean, tsunamis are often less than a foot tall.  You probably wouldn't notice its passage.
5.  As a tsunami approaches land, the depth of the water decreases causing the bottom of the wave to slow while the top continues at the same speed.  The sea then begins to rise, either as a giant wave or as a rapidly rising tide.
6.  Yes, a meteor struck at the current mouth of the Chesapeake Bay about 35 million years ago, causing a huge tsunami which may have flowed over the Blue Ridge Mountains.