A Novel Technique Could Stop Tsunamis In Their Tracks

Posted: Jan 30 2017, 9:12am CST | by , Updated: Jan 30 2017, 9:16am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
A Novel Technique could Stop Tsunamis in their Tracks
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Devastating tsunamis could be halted before hitting the shoreline by firing deep-ocean sound waves at them

Tsunamis are giant waves caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions deep under the sea. The effects of tsunami are devastating. When tsunami travels towards the land, it becomes extremely large in height and causes a huge number of causalities and property damage.

Researchers from Cardiff University's School of Mathematics have now proposed a novel mechanism to stop tsunamis in their tracks. They believe that devastating tsunamis could be halted before striking the land by firing deep-ocean sound waves straight at the oncoming mass of water.

Deep-ocean sound waves or acoustic-gravity waves are a special type of sound waves that are generated by underwater earthquakes, explosions or landslides and can move through the deep ocean at the speed of sound. A single one of these waves can stretch hundreds of kilometers, and travel thousands of meters below the surface, transferring energy across the oceans. These sound waves often acts as an early warning sign of tsunamis and rogue waves.

Now, if we can find a way to generate these waves, they can be used against an incoming tsunami and react in such a way that it neutralizes the height or intensity of the wave. By the time the tsunami reaches the shoreline, the reduced height would minimize the damage caused to both humans and the property.

“Within the last two decades, tsunamis have been responsible for the loss of almost half a million lives, widespread long-lasting destruction, profound environmental effects and global financial crisis," said Dr Usama Kadri, who proposed the idea of creating artificial acoustic-gravity waves.

"Up until now, little attention has been paid to trying to mitigate tsunamis and the potential of acoustic-gravity waves remains largely unexplored.”

The novel technique could be useful for countries like Japan which are particularly vulnerable to tsunamis. But creating deep-ocean sound waves is not as easy as it sounds. Many hurdles can come up in the way to make deep-ocean sound waves.

“In practice, generating the appropriate acoustic-gravity waves introduces serious challenges due to the high energy required for an effective interaction with a tsunami,” said Dr Kadri.

“However, this study has provided proof-of-concept that devastating tsunamis could be mitigated by using acoustic-gravity waves to redistribute the huge amounts of energy stored within the wave, potentially saving lives and billions of pounds worth of damage.”

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