Tsunamis spawned by Chile quake were tiny, say experts

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Washington, March 1 (ANI): Experts have said that the tsunamis spawned by the devastating earthquake in Chile were relatively tiny.

The giant quake that stuck Chile on February 26 was one of the most powerful ever recorded, killing more than 700 people and leveling cities.

Yet, experts say that the tsunamis generated by the quake earthquake were relatively tiny.

According to a report in National Geographic News, tsunamis reached only 4 feet (1.2 meters) in Japan and 6.5 feet (2 meters) in the South Pacific island of Tonga.

Furthermore, despite a massive evacuation of Hawaii, tsunamis in Hawaii measured only about three feet (one meter), too small to do any damage.

"But this doesn't mean the tsunamis in Hawaii fizzled," said Costas Synolakis, director of the Tsunami Research Center at the University of Southern California.

"Rather, the tsunamis were only slightly smaller than the 4-foot (1.25-meter) waves predicted by computer models," he said.

Predicting a tsunami from seismic information alone is difficult, because the earthquake might have vibrated the seabed up and down, or sideways, according to scientists.

"If all the movement is horizontal, you will have no tsunami," said Solomon Yim, interim director of the Hinsdale Wave Research Facility at Oregon State University.

To account for this, tsunami predictions combine seismic information with real-time measurements from seabed instruments so sensitive they can measure the pressure differences from passing waves thousands of feet above.

"Measurements from these buoys, located in deep water, allow us to estimate the wave size and update the forecast models," Synolakis said.

"They also allow us to estimate the duration of the event and the numbers of waves that get triggered," he added.

While these instruments are few and widely scattered, some of the predictions made about tsunamis from the earthquake in Chile were actually close to correct.

For example, the model predicted that the earthquake would create small waves in Los Angeles harbor-exactly what happened.

"The forecast was quite accurate," Synolakis said.

"The main story here, I think, is that the full evacuation of Hawaii was unnecessary," Syolakis told National Geographic News.

The decision to evacuate Hawaii was based purely on the tremendous power of the earthquake in Chile, which at magnitude 8.8, was the fifth largest in the past 110 years. (ANI)

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