In the mountains, the shaking of the earth can cause plate movement where snow and rocks slide downhill in the form of landslides. So, What causes earthquakes?

It is believed to be a natural phenomenon caused by humans themselves due to nuclear experiments or geological faults.

Another side effect is known as debris flow where the thick soup of water, soil, rocks, and boulders are mixed to form a round shape “ball” rolling with a lot of water in front of it crashing into buildings and houses as it “rolls” downhill.


The underneath earthquake, known as tsunamis, also triggers huge waves, which can travel as fast as a jet airliner (up to 500 miles an hour). They can also be caused by coastal land earthquakes, and often occur in the Pacific and Indian oceans. The big force of tidal waves builds up a huge crest in a giant wall of water which can reach up to 100 feet high. It can sweep away everything in its way, often flooding the regions.

The powerful tsunami on Dec. 26, 2004, hit the lands in and surrounding the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal, and the South China Sea caused terrible devastation and immediate loss of thousands of lives, followed by aftermath in which tens of thousands more perished.

How does scientist predict Tsunami and Earthquake?

Tsunami, a killer wave speeding across the ocean at 400 miles an hour. It smashes into land destroying everything in its path. Tsunamis do not have a season. But they can strike any coast at any time. 

If one forms close to the shore, the shaking of the earth and a roar may warn of its approach. But when a tsunami forms across the ocean, it can take hours to reach the shore enough time to warn people to move to higher land.

Tsunami in india

Scientists are constantly trying to learn new ways to predict the behaviour of tsunamis. Given current technology, however, most tsunami data come to us after the damage has already occurred.

In a post-tsunami survey, geologists measure several factors. Scientists are particularly interested in the inundation and run-up features after the waves strike land. 

Inundation is the maximum horizontal distance penetrated inland. Run-up refers to the maximum vertical distance above sea level that the waves reached. Inundation and run-up are often determined by measuring the distance of killed vegetation, scattered debris along with the land and eyewitness accounts of the incident.

The Technologies for Tsunami Prediction:

NOAA in tsunami

NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) responded by building on 25 years of tsunami research to develop and deploy real-time, deep-ocean tsunami measuring technology known as DART (Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis) buoys in the Pacific Ocean and to develop improved tsunami forecast models.  

In parallel with developing the DART buoy, PMEL scientists created tsunami forecast models to use the data provided by the buoys to forecast a tsunami’s impact at specific locations. First, they use an ocean-wide propagation model to advance the tsunami energy from the source to the coastal margin. 

The propagation model serves as input for much higher-resolution, site-specific inundation models. Using improved information on the shape and depth of the ocean bottom (bathymetry) from other parts of NOAA and the topography of shoreline areas from the U.S. Geological Survey, scientists designed the models to predict the time of arrival, duration of the tsunami, tsunami heights, and extent of flooding at specific locations.

DART for tsunami

NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory developed an instrument for the early detection, measurement, and real-time reporting of tsunamis in the open ocean. The DART® system consists of a seafloor bottom pressure recording system capable of detecting tsunamis as small as one centimeter, and a moored surface buoy for real-time communications. 

An acoustic link is used to transmit data from the seafloor to the surface buoy. The data are then relayed via a satellite link to ground stations, which demodulate the signals for immediate dissemination to the NOAA tsunami warnings centers. The DART® data, along with state-of-the-art numerical modeling technology, are part of a tsunami forecasting system package that will provide site-specific predictions of tsunami impact on the coast.

New technology developed by Geoscientist to forecast Tsunami:

Today, scientists have successfully developed a new buoy to predict Earthquake and killer tsunami waves. University of South Florida geoscientists have successfully developed and tested a new high-tech shallow water buoy that can detect the small movements and changes in the Earth’s seafloor that are often a precursor to deadly natural hazards, like earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis.

The buoy, created with the assistance of an $822,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Technology and Interdisciplinary Coordination program, was installed off Egmont Key in the Gulf of Mexico last year and has been producing data on the three-dimensional motion of the seafloor. Ultimately the system will be able to detect small changes in the stress and strain the Earth’s crust.

Technology Explained:

The patent-pending seafloor geodesy system is an anchored spar buoy topped by a high precision Global Positioning System (GPS). The buoy’ orientation is measured using a digital compass that provides heading, pitch, and roll information helping to capture the crucial side-to-side motion of the Earth that can be diagnostic of major tsunami-producing earthquakes. 

While there are various techniques for seafloor monitoring currently available, that technology typically works best in the deeper ocean where there is less noise interference. 

Shallow coastal waters (less than a few hundred meters depth) are a more challenging environment but also an important one for many applications, including certain types of devastating earthquakes. Offshore strain accumulation and release processes are critical for understanding megathrust earthquakes and tsunamis.

The experimental buoy rests on the sea bottom using a heavy concrete ballast and has been able to withstand several storms, including Hurricane Michael’s march up the Gulf of Mexico. The system is capable of detecting movements as small as one to two centimeters.

Design of the new buoy to predict the disaster:

The technology has several potential applications in the offshore oil and gas industry and volcano monitoring in some places, but the big one is for improved forecasting of earthquakes and tsunamis in subduction zones. 

The giant earthquakes and tsunamis in Sumatra in 2004 and Japan in 2011 are examples of the kind of events to better understand and forecast in the future.

The system is designed for subduction zone applications in the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire” where offshore strain accumulation and release processes are currently poorly monitored. One example where the group hopes to deploy the new system is the shallow coastal waters of earthquake-prone Central America.

The Egmont Key test location sits in just 23 meters depth. While Florida is not prone to earthquakes, the waters off Egmont Key proved an excellent test location for the system. It experiences strong tidal currents that tested the buoy’s stability and orientation correction system. The next step in the testing is to deploy a similar system in the deeper water of the Gulf of Mexico off Florida’s west coast.


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