This is a near real-time animation by NOAA NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center for the tsunami from northern Chile on 1 April 2014 resulting from an offshore 8.2 magnitude earthquake in the region. Watch the elapsed time in the upper left corner.
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water generated by – in this case – an underwater earthquake. Tsunami waves don’t resemble normal sea waves, because their wavelength is far longer. Rather than appearing as a breaking wave, a tsunami may instead initially look like a rapidly rising tide, and for this reason they are often referred to as tidal waves. Tsunamis generally consist of a series of waves with periods ranging from minutes to hours, arriving in a so-called “wave train”
The animation shows simulated tsunami wave propagation for 30 hours followed by an “energy map” showing the maximum open-ocean wave heights over that period and the forecasted tsunami runup heights on the coastlines.
According to ABC, six people in Chile were crushed to death or suffered fatal heart attacks, a remarkably low toll for such a powerful shift in the Earth’s crust.
At this time, there are no longer any tsunami warnings, watches, or advisories in effect.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.