News / Asia

    Tsunami Warnings Issued in Pacific From Japan to Peru

    With a tsunami warning in effect for Northern California, a surfer enters the water at Fort Point near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, March 11, 2011
    With a tsunami warning in effect for Northern California, a surfer enters the water at Fort Point near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, March 11, 2011

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Widespread tsunami warnings were issued Friday, after an earthquake off the coast of Japan unleashed waves that posed threats throughout the Pacific.   One tsunami researcher said that while the tsunami warning system worked well, it remains difficult to make predictions about how damaging those waves might be.

    A tsunami warning siren pierced the night in Hawaii and elsewhere in the Pacific Ocean Friday, after an 8.9 earthquake near the east coast of Honshu, Japan, generated tsunami waves, which move as fast as a jetliner.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a widespread warning from Japan to Peru.  

    Laura Furgione is the deputy assistant administrator at NOAA National Weather Service. She said warnings can remain in effect well after tsunami waves first hit a coastline because surges, currents and waves can pose problems for up to 12 hours. Furgione said NOAA updates its warnings using information gathered by 32 deep-ocean buoys that gauge sea levels in the Pacific.    

    "That information is put into our models, and we update the models and the advisories and warnings appropriately. So we were expecting some of the first waves into the Hawaiian islands around 8 a.m. and that's exactly what happened."  

    Phil Liu, a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University in New York, said the early warning system worked well because the predicted arrival times were accurate. Liu helped to develop the tsunami coastal warning system for countries surrounding the Pacific Ocean.

    "I firmly believe that the most important thing in the early warning system is to estimate the arrival time accurately so you can warn people to get away from the coast."

    Liu noted that while scientists were able to accurately predict the waves' arrival, it is difficult to predict the potential size or destructiveness of tsunami waves.

    "Usually when a tsunami propagates into the ocean, the wave amplitude or the size of the wave is not all that big - a meter or two at most. However, when these waves propagate into shallow water, they tend to become bigger. Exactly how big these waves will become really depends on the local bathymetry, how water depths vary, and also the configuration or orientation of the shoreline also plays an important role in determining exactly how big the wave might end up," said Liu.

    Researchers explain that that earthquake off the coast of Japan resulted from a thrust event between the Pacific tectonic plate and an extension of the North American tectonic plate.  
    Senior science advisor for earthquakes and geologic hazards at the U.S. Geological Survey, Dave Applegate, said, "In the case of an undersea earthquake like this, you're transmitting energy not only through the crust, which is the strong shaking that is damaging to people and buildings, but you're also transmitting a lot of that energy into the water, and of course that represents the other part of this disaster which is the tsunami."

    Applegate said aftershocks can continue for days, months and even years. Liu said while aftershocks usually do not spawn tsunamis, there are no guarantees.

    And while Japan is one of the most seismically active places on Earth, Applegate said an earthquake of this magnitude is rare, even for the so-called "Ring of Fire."

    "The only evidence we have is from monastic records going back to A.D. 869 - 1,200 years ago - of an earthquake of this magnitude rupturing along the plate boundary."

    While experts have to delve into history to find an earthquake of this scope near Japan, lessons learned in recent history may have helped reduce the scale of this disaster. Tsunami researcher Liu said the public is more informed about the dangers of tsunamis, and warning systems were improved, after the devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora