Is a tsunami a tidal wave?Is a tsunami a tidal wave?

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besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tsunamis and tidal waves are alike in many ways. The real difference between a tsunami and a tidal wave depends on their formation.

Tidal waves are impacted by the atmosphere. There are many factors that correlate between the sun, moon, and Earth that can cause a disturbance in the ocean, the tides. Tidal waves also have regional preferences. They are more likely to strike in lower latitudes and also follow the ocean currents.

Tsunamis are different in that they are caused by a disturbance from the floor of the ocean. This is usually due to an earthquake that occurred undderwater or even an underwater landslide. Tsunamis can strike anywhere, it just depends on where the underwater event (earthquake or landslide) occurred. They also follow the ocean currents.

They each carry with them the potential of causing mass destruction and devastation. They are both very dangerous.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A tsunami is certainly a type of tidal wave; it is actually a series of waves (also known as a tsunami wave train) caused by the displacement of a large amount of water. A Japanese word that means "harbor wave," tsunamis are most often found in the vicinity of Japan, where nearly 200 have been recorded. Tsunamis are generally caused by disturbances either above or below water, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides or underwater explosions (such as a nuclear detonation). Tsunamis are highly dangerous since the water speed is faster than humans can move or react. The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 killed more than 200,000 people; a recent Tsunami that reached Hawaii was far less serious.

coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Another type of tsunami that many people have not heard of is called a slow tsunami. This happens when a storm surge of water builds up more slowly out at sea, and I don't mean just a large wave. We are talking whole seas of water threatening the coastlines of low lying countries. Examples of this phenomenon would be the countries of Bangladesh and Pakistan. Recently, the flooding was so bad that entire towns were washed away but the world response was not as swift or caring as during the earthquake tsunami that hit on Boxing Day, maybe due to the slower, more creeping effect.

dano7744 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A tsunami is a tidal wave but "tidal wave" is an American slang usage. Tsunami's are huge sheets/waves of water that originate because of some seismic disturbance like earthquakes and volcanoes. When these events occur it causes the floor of the ocean to shift. Huge waves traveling very fast (up to 500 mph) rise from the ocean floor and produce vertical waves.

These huge waves travel vast distances because of their speed. They can become quite large, some expanding miles in length. When they reach land massive flooding occurs from the huge surge of water.  

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The term "tidal wave" is often used in American English as a popular term for a tsunami.  So, in that sense, a tsunami is a tidal wave.  However, a tsunami has nothing to do with the tides so it is not a true tidal wave in the sense that a tidal bore or tidal surge would be.

Tsunamis are waves that are caused by seismic events.  You tend to have tsunamis after events such as earthquakes or even volcanic eruptions.  The shaking of the earth starts the water in motion and this can lead to huge waves.  However, these waves have nothing to do with tides.

crims | Student

In the movies, any big surge of water from the oceans -- the result of an underwater earthquake or a crashing asteroid -- is often called a tidal wave. But it’s another case of Hollywood not quite getting things right. A tidal wave is a predictable event. But a giant wave created in a violent event is known as a tsunami.

A tidal wave is produced by the daily tides, which are caused by the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun. As the tide rolls in and out, it produces a rise and fall in sea level that stretches across thousands of miles.

Tidal waves are most pronounced in narrow bays or in rivers along the coast. As the tide forces its way into these inlets, it can raise the water level by several feet in just a few hours. The highest “tidal waves” are found in the Bay of Fundy, in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, where the water level can rise with the tide by 50 feet.

A tsunami, on the other hand, occurs when some event disturbs the ocean. An earthquake, for example, can jiggle or displace the ocean floor, perhaps triggering an underwater landslide. The water above such an event rises or falls, creating a surface wave that can travel at hundreds of miles an hour.


nishantk | Student

yes, tsunami is tidal wave. when earthquake is occured in the ocean and sea then due to this , waves generate . and tsunami is generated. everyone knows that what is the disaster due to this.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Tsunami is a type waves in oceans caused by earthquakes. In popular language these waves are called a type of tidal waves, but many scientists consider this term misleading because tsunamis are not caused by the tide.

An earthquake on the ocean floor creates a tremendous push to surrounding seawater and create one or more large and powerful waves called tsunamis. These waves, moving at very high speed of 800 to 970 kilometers per hour, have waves with of moderate height but very long wave lengths in deep water. However tsunamis may build to heights of more than 30 metres when they reach shallow water near shore,  flooding coastal areas thousands of kilometres from their source.

lit24 | Student

A tsunami is certainly a tidal wave. There are three types of tidal waves.

1. The Tidal Bore: This is in fact the genuine tidal wave. During high tide at almost exactly the same time every day the water travels up the river starting from its mouth in the form of a huge wave. Since every one knows when exactly it will occur they will be prepared for it, and hence no damage is reported.

2. The Tidal or Storm surge: During a cyclone or a hurricane which forms in the sea, the low pressure depression causes the sea water to rise and flood the low lying areas causing a lot of destruction. In spite of the people being prepared loss of life and property always occur because of the unpredictability of the cyclone.

3. The Tsunami: A relatively rarer phenomenon than the earlier two, is the most destructive because of its sheer force and man's inability to withstand its awesome power. It is usually caused by an earthquake occurring at sea and unleashing a huge tidal which destroys every thing it comes into contact with.

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