A massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit Chile today and therefore a tsunami warning has been issued for Hawaii, Polynesia and Tonga, with the first potential waves reaching Hawaii around 11:30 AM local time in Hawaii — 4:30PM eastern time.
Tsunamis are triggered by undersea earthquakes. A research team led by Geoffrey Blewitt of the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology and Seismological Laboratory has demonstrated that a large quake’s true size can be determined within 15 minutes using Global Positioning System (GPS) data. This swift exchange of information is critical to determine if an earthquake might trigger a tsunami. Together with a seismometer and ocean buoy data, GPS is an important tool in improving tsunami danger assessments, Blewitt said. “The advantage of including GPS in warning systems is that it quickly tells how much the ocean floor moved, and that information can directly set tsunami models into motion.”
Let’s sincerely hope that Hawaii and other areas in harm’s way avoid the tsunami. The improved tsunami detection technology sure will help with getting people out of harm’s way though in the future. Thanks to the researchers at Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology and Seismological Laboratory to working on making our systems even better. Below is an illustrative view of how tsunamis work.