The Sumatra-Andaman earthquake generated a catastrophic tsunami that caused heavy damage and fatalities in coastal areas around the Indian Ocean. The tsunami, which struck on 26 December 2004, also propagated throughout the world's oceans, making it the first such event to be scrutinized with continuous observations of widespread oceanic monitoring networks.
Thomson et al. analyze more than 100 tide gauge records from the Atlantic coast of North America and find that the tsunami was identified in most outer tide gauges from Florida to Nova Scotia. Maximum heights for northern regions were between 32 and 39 centimeters (1.0 and 1.3 feet), while southern regions experienced wave heights between 15 and 33 centimeters (0.49 and 1.1 feet).
However, along the shores of Maine and Nova Scotia, the arrival of the tsunami coincided with the presence of tsunami-like waves generated by a major storm tracking northward along the U.S. eastern seaboard. The combined waves reached heights in excess of 1 meter (3.3 feet).
The authors warn that, although the northern Atlantic Ocean has low tsunami hazards, tsunamis from distant seismic events could threaten coastal infrastructure and habitat when the waves coincide with winter storm waves.
Title: Double jeopardy: Concurrent arrival of the 2004 Sumatra tsunami and storm-generated waves on the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada
Authors: Richard E. Thomson: Institute of Ocean Sciences, Sidney, British Columbia, Canada;
Alexander B. Rabinovich: Institute of Ocean Sciences, Sidney, British Columbia, Canada; also at P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Moscow, Russia;
Maxim V. Krassovski: School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Source: Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) paper 10.1029/2007GL030685, 2007
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