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Surprising Science

‘Double Tsunami’ Caused Fukushima Disaster

Thanks to the serendipitous placing of NASA space satellites, scientists have confirmed that the tsunami which struck Japan in March was doubly powerful because of a rare phenomenon.

What’s the Latest Development?


Step aside double rainbow. The massive tsunami which struck Japan in March was a ‘double tsunami’, a rare phenomenon that occurs when two waves merge, doubling their power. NASA satellites that happened to be flying overhead captured the merger of two powerful waves into a single double-high wave. “As it traveled towards land, ocean ridges and undersea mountains pushed the wave fronts together, keeping the tsunami stable even as it hurtled towards the coast.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The 9.0 earthquake triggered under the Pacific Ocean last March killed 16,000 people and caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, the long term effects of which are still unclear. Scientists hope their new knowledge of the double-tsunami will help them better predict where, when and how severe tsunamis will hit. While Japan already has the world’s most advanced tsunami warning system, the new data could more easily benefit poorer coastal nations.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com


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