Out of all the natural disasters that we talk about in class, the most deadly would have to be a Tsunami. Compared to earthquakes, Tsunamis have cause more deaths since 1945. A Tsunami is likely to strike anywhere on the west coast, including Santa Cruz in California – United States – North America – 36:58:24N 122:02:09W. A Tsunami is a giant “wave” of water that is caused by a sudden shift in the sea floor. The wave is a result of the water attempting to regain its equilibrium, which is driven by gravity. The size of the wave is determined by how much the sea floor is moved vertically, and how quickly it shifts. A greater water depth helps as well. They can travel up to five hundred miles an hour and have wave heights of one hundred feet. Earthquakes are the leading cause of Tsunamis. People who live in California are well aware of earthquakes that are frequently caused by the San Andreas Fault. However, not many are aware of the results of earthquakes that occur out in the Pacific Ocean. Tsunamis have also been referred to in the past as seismic sea waves, but Earthquakes aren’t the only cause of this phenomenon. Landslides, nuclear explosions, volcanic eruptions, and extra terrestrial impacts also have great water displacement results.
What makes California such a potential area for this disaster is the seismic activity near its coastline. Since the early eighteen hundreds, fourteen Tsunamis have struck the California coastline. However, only six of these struck with a devastating force. The shallow beaches can add to the destructive force of the wave. As a Tsunami enters shallow waters, its speed dissipates and the height increases. Once the wave or waves strike, the inland region would then be faced with massive flooding problems. The flooding area is controlled by the topography of the land behind the coastline. The elevation of Santa Cruz is twenty feet above sea level, increasing the danger of this geological event. Santa Cruz has a population of about 50,000. Tsunamis have the ability to kill thousands of people in matter of minutes.
Due to the unpredictability of earthquakes, Tsunamis are difficult to forecast. However, the county of San Mateo has gone to great lengths in the planning of how to respond to a Tsunami. The common problem that areas such as these encounter is how often the government believes that these events happen. It is believed that this event can only happen once every one hundred years, and therefore does not need much prevention planning. Since asking the entire West Coast to migrate east is not a probable solution, those who live in coastal areas must be well educated about this event. New housing developments now must follow certain regulations that limit how close housing can be built next to the coastline. Three years ago the government set aside two point three million dollars to help fund Tsunami preparedness. Buoys placed out in the ocean can help measure a Tsunami as it passes. The more scientists know about an approaching Tsunami, the more accurately the public can be informed. False alarms can be costly when it comes to evacuating measures. Inundation maps have been created to help aid the evacuation process. Those who live in coastal areas are required to have flood insurance. Tsunamis and the destructive force that lies with them are inevitable. The best thing we can do is plan effectively and be ready for the impossible. Those who live areas such as Santa Cruz know what risks are at stake. As long as people continue to inhabit areas that are prone to natural disasters, we will always be searching for ways to prepare for the worst.
Written for a “natural disaster” class