How Long Does A Tsunami Last?

A tsunami is one major natural calamity, and it can kill or damage buildings and infrastructure with its humongous waves that come in and go out. A tsunami can create huge ocean waves caused by earthquakes, underwater landslides, asteroids, or volcanic eruptions. The forces involved in a tsunami incident are large, and their effects can be correspondingly massive.

How long does a tsunami last? A tsunami can approximately last for 5 minutes up to 2 hours. In some cases, it can continue for days, depending on location and reaching their peak often a couple of hours after the arrival.

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In this short read, you will find about the science behind tsunami and what makes it one of the deadliest natural disasters ever existed.

What Is A Tsunami?

A tsunami is a series of extremely long waves caused by large and sudden relocation of the ocean. It is a result of an earthquake below or near the ocean floor. This force of nature creates a wave that radiates outward in all different directions away from their original sources. It is sometimes crossing the entire ocean basins.

Compared to regular wind waves, a tsunami is a massive force where the whole water column moves from the ocean floor to the ocean surface.

Causes Of A Tsunami

Usually, a tsunami is caused by earthquakes, with the convergence of the tectonic plate boundaries. According to the data, over 80% of the tsunami was generated by an earthquake.

On the other hand, other things can cause a tsunami, for instance, by a landslide, volcanic eruptions, certain types of weather, and possibly Earth objects such as asteroids or comets. These near-Earth objects can collide with or explode above the ocean.

Tsunami Movement

The speed of a tsunami will be dependent on the depth of the ocean after its formation. Below the ocean, a tsunami has a movement as fast as a jet plane. It can speed up to 500mph, and its wavelength can be hundreds of miles.

With this kind of speed, mariners at sea won’t notice it as it passes beneath them. The NOAA systems located deep sea can detect small changes in the sea-level height and transmit all the information gathered to tsunami warning centers.

Usually, when a tsunami hits, it may come as a fast-rising flood and can strike at a devastating force. This force, together with massive floods, may continue for hours.

The first strike may not be the last or the biggest. For safety purposes, you should know the potential warning signs of an incoming tsunami. An earthquake, rapid rise or fall of the water along the coast and ocean-roar load are some signs you should be looking at.


A tsunami is no joke as it can injure people and destroy all your property and livelihood. The waves will continue to come in and go. The vital thing to consider in a tsunami incident is to go to a higher place and wait until the flood is no more rising the wave surge starts to calm down.