Difference Between Tidal Wave and Tsunami
Tidal Wave vs Tsunami
Most people assume that there is no difference between a tidal wave and a tsunami, and often use the words interchangeably. This is inaccurate, and while both of the waves carry the power of destruction, the greatest difference is how each is born.
A tidal wave is directly impacted by the atmosphere. The correlating factors between the sun, moon, and Earth cause a disturbance in the sea, and a ‘shallow water wave’ is formed. Shallow water waves imply that the development of a tidal wave is much closer to the shoreline of a land mass, that will ultimately be in its path. However, because of the depth relating to it origins, it is possible that a tidal wave can ‘burn itself out’ before it reaches the land.
The origin of the tsunami is much deeper. It is caused by a deep disturbance along the ocean floor. This disturbance usually comes from an underwater earthquake, or even an underwater landslide. The deeper origin of the tsunami creates a more emphatic wave. It will often carry itself across hundreds, or even thousands, of miles of ocean before making landfall.
The tidal wave has what we would call regional preferences. It is unlikely that a tidal wave would make landfall in areas of temperate climates, or northern countries. The various elements which cause its development form, in their precise manner, in lower latitudes, creating a higher possibility for landfall in places like the West Indies, for example. The tidal wave follows the currents, and therefore, is only able to strike areas within the current flow.
The tsunami has the potential to develop anywhere. The placement of the earthquake or landslide, or even the unique event of an underwater eruption, compels the start of the wave. Just like the tidal wave, the tsunami also follows the currents. Yet, since the development of the underwater event can happen within the current flow heading toward the US, Canada, or Great Britain, it could be assumed that a tsunami can hit one of these usually unaffected countries.
Most people who do understand the difference between the two waves are inclined to believe that the tsunami is more destructive than the tidal wave. While in many cases, this is a correct assumption, a blanket statement is not necessarily true. The size of the waves is determined by many varying factors, including the wind’s direction and speed.
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