Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami travel times.


The big news this morning is a huge 8.9 earthquake off the coast of Japan which caused a tsunami. This picture shows how quickly the wave will travel all across the Pacific. Best wishes to all in its path and if haven't found cover yet away from the ocean, stop reading this and run!

To those of you still safely in front of your computer screens, I previously discussed the math of a tsunami about three years ago, which are significantly different from other waves. A normal everyday wave has a crest and a trough, while a tsunami is a solitary wave or soliton, all crest with no corresponding trough. Waves with crests and troughs tend to run into each other and cancel each other out. Solitons don't get canceled out and big ones travel faster than small ones, so parts of this wave created in Japan will even hit Antarctica sometime in the next day or so with a lot of destructive force.

That's the thing about nature, isn't it? Beautiful, fascinating and terrifying all at the same time.

1 comment:

sfmike said...

Cool map and scary-ass photos and video from Japan.