Washington, Feb 24 (ANI): Scientists have determined that the devastating January 12 earthquake in Haiti also set off a swarm of unusual tsunamis, which killed three and destroyed several homes.
Though surveying damage and rescuing survivors was of utmost priority for several weeks, scientists are now starting to examine some of the side effects of the temblor, such as the tsunamis.
According to a report in National Geographic News, the waves, which averaged about ten feet (three meters) high, slammed shores along the Bay of Port-au-Prince and the southern coast of the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
At least one wave hit the shore as far as 62 miles (100 kilometers) away from the earthquake's epicenter, near Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
"Tsunamis are rare though not unheard of in the Caribbean-a 1946 wave in the Dominican Republic killed nearly 2,000 people," said Hermann Fritz, a civil and coastal engineer who worked with a team from Haiti's Quisqueya University to study the tsunamis.
"Yet the Haiti tsunami swarm was unusual, since earthquakes usually need to be bigger than the recent magnitude 7.0 quake to spawn the killer waves," said Fritz, of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
"It's a warning for the Caribbean," he said.
In another scenario, for example, after a bigger earthquake, "the cards can be stacked differently, and there can be a bigger tsunami," according to Fritz.
Fritz and colleagues visited Haiti after the recent earthquake to look for physical evidence of the tsunamis, which had been detected by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Caribbean buoys.
Satellite images gave the team possible locations of wave impacts.
At these sites, the researchers found sand deposits, debris, tree scars, and other signs that tsunamis had hit throughout the region.
The team also discovered that the tsunami swarm had included two types of waves, namely, tectonic tsunamis and landslide tsunamis.
The team's survey found that in Haiti, a man and two boys were killed by a landslide wave at Grand Goave, a town along the Bay of Port-au-Prince, as they watched from the shore.
Several coastal homes were also swept out into the water.
The victims were among many earthquake survivors who had gathered on Haitian beaches to watch the incoming waves as "kind of a spectacle" instead of fleeing, according to Fritz. (ANI)