How do volcanic eruptions generate tsunamis?

Although relatively infrequent, violent volcanic eruptions represent also impulsive disturbances, which can displace a great volume of water and generate extremely destructive tsunami waves in the immediate source area.  According to this mechanism, waves may be generated by the sudden displacement of water caused by a volcanic explosion, by a volcano's slope failure, or more likely by a phreatomagmatic explosion and collapse/engulfment of the volcanic magmatic chambers. One of the largest and most destructive tsunamis ever recorded was generated in August 26, 1883 after the explosion and collapse of the volcano of Krakatoa (Krakatau), in Indonesia.  This explosion generated waves that reached 135 feet, destroyed coastal towns and villages along the Sunda Strait in both the islands of Java and Sumatra, killing 36, 417 people.   It is also believed that the destruction of the Minoan civilization in Greece was caused in 1490 B.C. by the explosion/collapse of the volcano of Santorin in the Aegean Sea.

 

Diagram of how a volcanic eruption can generate a tsunami.

Diagram of how a volcanic eruption can generate a tsunami. Geoscience Australia.

Diagram source: Geoscience Australia.

IOClogonoaabox

find us on facebook

Featured Resources

banner materiales educativos


Regional Disaster Information Center (Latin America & the Caribbean)


A database of Spanish language materials focused on tsunami preparedness.
dsc00149 thumbnail






Post-Tsunami Survey:
El Salvador Summary Video

Learn the basics of a post-tsunami survey.
tsunami_basics_thumbnail






TsunamiTeacher USA
Tsunami Basics
  

Also on YouTube youtube_logo
(w/closed captioning)
 

Learn the basics of tsunamis. Available in English and Samoan.

 
Tsunamis on the Move








Tsunami Awareness Poster


Awareness poster available in English, Chinese, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Singalese.

 
tsu_poster_2010_thumbnail_12.6.10







Global Hazard Maps


Posters of Tsunami Sources, Significant Earthquakes and Significant Volcanic Eruptions. Also Tsunami Sources Icosohedron Globe.

 
great waves en 12 small thumbnail






Tsunami, The Great Waves

Available in English, Spanish, French and Chinese.

 

tsunami glossary 2013 thumbnail









Tsunami Glossary


Available in English, Arabic, Spanish, French and Bahasa. 

 

great_waves_en_feb09_thumbnail






Where the First Wave Arrives in Minutes

Available in English, Bahasa, Spanish and French.
TT_insert_cover_thumbnail









TsunamiTeacher

DVD copies for PC and Macintosh computers are available free of charge from the ITIC, Hawaii (itic.tsunami@noaa.gov).

Hosted by:
UNESCO/IOC Project Office for IODE Oostende, Belgium
© 2014 International Tsunami Information Center | A UNESCO/IOC-NOAA Partnership
1845 Wasp Boulevard, Building 176, Honolulu, HI 96818, USA | Tel: +1 808 725 6050 | Fax: +1 808 725 6055