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Tsunami Hits Hawaii, impact is less than expected

Posted on Sunday, February 28th, 2010 at 5:21 pm by
tsunami spares hawaii

The recent 8.8 magnitude quake in Chile has triggered tsunami warning in coastline cities in the western coast of the US, Hawaii and Japan. This earthquake, was 500 times larger than the one in Haiti, but due to the fact that it was also much deeper, will most likely cause many less casualties. Visitors in some coastal areas in Waikiki, were moved to higher floors in their hotels, rather then being evacuated.

In addition to threatening human life, tsunamis pose a real threat to coral reefs and their associated ecosystems. Naturally, deeper reefs, and those farther from the coastline will be less affected by the force of the tsunami. The real threat however, occurs near the coastline “protected” by coral reefs. In these cases, the reef absorbs much of the force of the tsunami, but at a cost of being ripped to shreds. As if this is not enough, as the water from the large waves return to the ocean, they carry with them a large amount of debris, sediments, and mud. The sediment and mud will cover the corals, and block the sunlight from reaching them. The debris, will be constantly waved back and forth over the reef, effectively “sanding” it down.

Luckily for us humans, the tsunami seems to have spared the Pacific. Although elevated sea levels were recorded in several areas, no real damage was reported by Japan’s Meteorological Agency. Gerard Fryer, Pacific Tsunami Warning Center geophysicist said ”We expected the waves to be bigger in Hawaii, maybe about 50 per cent bigger than they actually were.”

It should not go unmentioned, that the earthquake and it’s subsequent impact have been absolutely devastating in Chile and several other countries around the world.

Felicia has been keeping aquariums since the early 90s and has a keen interest in taxonomy, aquaculture, and seahorses. she is the former Liveaquaria Diver's Den photographer and now works for Philadelphia area's largest aquarium specialty store The Hidden Reef.

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