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Keywords searched: 15 March 2005 Interview with Dr. Hal Mofjeld

  1. Why are tsunamis so dangerous?
  2. Where do tsunamis most often occur in the world?
  3. How do tsunamis affect the life of fish and marine animals?
  4. How are tectonic plates associated with tsunamis?
  5. Do you think that the Tsunami Warning System should be improved?
  6. Do you think it was possible to decrease the number of death in the Sumatra earthquake?

  1. Why are tsunamis so dangerous?

    Tsunamis cause the water level and currents to rise rapidly, sometimes high enough to drown or injury people who have not escaped away from the shore to high ground. Dangerous waves can follow the first tsunami wave, trapping people who returned to the danger area because they thought the tsunami was over. Also, people can be caught unaware if they don't know the natural tsunami signs (earthquake shaking, water receding rapidly from the beach, a loud noise like a freight train coming from the ocean) or they are places where there are no tsunami warning systems. Strong tsunamis damage ports and harbors, as well as tourist areas, thereby damaging relief efforts and the economy of the communities.

    Authority: Dr. Hal Mofjeld, interview in February 25, 2005, NOAA Center for Tsunami Research

  2. Where do tsunamis most often occur in the world?

    Tsunamis occur most often in the Pacific Ocean and Indonesia because the Pacific Rim bordering the Ocean has a large number of active submarine earthquake zones. However, tsunamis have also occurred recently in the Mediterranean Sea region and are expected in the Caribbean Sea as well.

    Authority: Dr. Hal Mofjeld, interview in March 13, 2005, NOAA Center for Tsunami Research

  3. How do tsunamis affect the life of fish and marine animals?

    Tsunami currents increase strongly in shallow water where weaker corals can be broken by the force of the tsunami. Fish and marine animals are sometimes stranded on the land after they are carried by the currents to shore. The currents also move sand from the beach onto nearby coral reefs, burying low lying corals. However, the damage often varies greatly from place to place and with distance away from the shore.

    Authority: Dr. Hal Mofjeld, interview in March 13, 2005, NOAA Center for Tsunami Research

  4. How are tectonic plates associated with tsunamis?

    When one tectonic plate subducts under another, it does so in a series of sharp events that often cause earthquakes. One result of this movement is that the ocean bottom is very quickly moves upward in some locations and downward in other nearby locations. This happens so rapidly that the water surface is also up or down by the same amount; this wave pattern is then the initial waveform of the newly created tsunami that then propagates away from the source area. The earthquakes can also trigger submarine landslides that either generate tsunamis on their own or enhance the tsunami generated by the tectonic bottom movement.

    Authority: Dr. Hal Mofjeld, interview in March 13, 2005, NOAA Center for Tsunami Research

  5. Do you think that the Tsunami Warning System should be improved?

    There are always ongoing efforts to improve the tsunami warning system. These are being accelerated in response to the tsunami in the Indian Ocean. The U.S. warning system will be expanded to include the East Coast, Gulf of Mexico and Puerto Rico. Tsunami detection buoys will be placed there and the buoy array in the Pacific will be expanded. In addition, a new tsunami wave height forecasting capability is being developed and should be installed at the warning centers soon. The United States is also talking with other countries about installing a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean, like the international systems that exists now in the Pacific. Also important are more extensive tsunami education and improved communication systems for tsunami warnings.

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    Authority: Dr. Hal Mofjeld, interview in March 15, 2005, NOAA Center for Tsunami Research

  6. Do you think it was possible to decrease the number of death in the Sumatra earthquake?

    We always look back at horrible events like the one in the Indian Ocean and wish we or someone else would help a region prepare for such events. The one that contributed to the loss of life last December was that large tsunamis are so rare in the Indian Ocean. Now that we know they happen, many people are working hard to reduce the effects of the next one.

    Authority: Dr. Hal Mofjeld, interview in March 13, 2005, NOAA Center for Tsunami Research