Tsunami Warning System: History, Indian Ocean Tsunami

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In this article, we will discuss the tsunami warning system.

A tsunami may be defined as a series of huge waves occurred by the displacement of a large volume of water because of the earthquake in an ocean or lake, a volcanic eruption in the sea or ocean, and many more reasons.

About 80% of tsunamis occur in the Pacific Ocean.

Major countries like Japan, the USA, Hawaii, etc are very prone to the risk of tsunamis. Landlocked countries are safe from tsunamis.

An earthquake of 7.5 magnitudes or more can help a tsunami to occur.


Tsunami Warning System : History, Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System



  1. Tsunami Warning System  

A tsunami warning system (TWS) may be defined as a device that is utilized to notice tsunamis in advance and give cautions/alerts to control loss of life and harm to property.

This warning system is assembled up of two equally essential parts:

I. A network of sensors to detect tsunamis

II. A communications infrastructure to give frequent alarms to allow evacuation of the coastal regions.


There are two distinct types of tsunami warning systems:

A. International

B. Regional.

When operating, seismic signals are utilized to start the alertness and warnings; then, data from monitored sea level height (either shore-based tide gauges or DART buoys) are employed to confirm the presence of a tsunami.

Other systems have been suggested to boost the warning techniques; for example, it has been proposed that the time and frequency range of t-wave energy (which is earthquake energy trapped in the ocean SOFAR channel) is expressive of an earthquake’s tsunami possibility.



  2. History of TWS  

The initial essential system to warn groups of an approaching tsunami was tried in Hawaii in the 1920s. Additionally refined systems were invented in the wake of April 1, 1946 (which happened due to the 1946 Aleutian Islands earthquake) and May 23, 1960 (which happened due to the 1960 Valdivia earthquake) tsunamis which generated huge devastation in Hilo, Hawaii.

While tsunamis moved at between 500 and 1,000 km/h (around 0.14 and 0.28 km/s) in open seawater, earthquakes can be noticed almost at once as seismic waves move with a typical speed of 4 km/s (14,400 km/h). This provides time for a likely tsunami prediction to be done and alerts to be given to risked regions if warranted.

Until a dedicated measure is able to forecast which earthquakes will create powerful tsunamis, this process will create numerous more wrong alarms than confirmed warnings.


Biggest Tsunamis in History



  3. Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System  

After the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami which took the lives of almost 250,000 people, a United Nations meeting was organized in January 2005 in Kobe, Japan, and arranged that as the first stage toward an International Early Warning Programme, the UN should set an Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System.

This resulted in a notification system for Indonesia and other impacted regions. Indonesia’s system dropped out of operation in 2012 because the detection buoys were no more functioning.

The tsunami forecast is therefore presently limited to the detection of seismic activity; there is no technique to forecast tsunamis depending upon volcanic eruptions. Indonesia was struck by tsunamis in September and December 2018. The December 2018 tsunami was generated by a volcano.



  4. Warning People  

Detection and forecast of tsunamis is only half the operation of the system. Of similar significance is the capacity to alert the people of the locations that will be impacted.

All tsunami warning systems feature numerous lines of communications (such as Cell Broadcast, SMS, e-mail, fax, radio, texting, and telex, often using hardened dedicated systems) allowing emergency messages to be sent to the emergency assistance and armed forces, as well to population-alerting systems and systems like the Emergency Alert System.



Read Also: Biggest Tsunamis in History



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