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Tsunami Wave Basin

Tsunami (pronounced soo-NAH-mee) is a Japanese word meaning harbor wave. Tsunamis have been mistakenly called tidal waves, but tsunamis are not single waves and they're not caused by the tides or the wind. A tsunami is a series of waves caused by violent movement of the sea floor. An underwater landslide, volcanic eruption, or even a meteorite impact, can cause drastic movement of the sea floor. The most common cause is an earthquake.

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A tsunami is so powerful that it can travel across very long distances while retaining a great deal of stored energy. When the tsunami reaches shallower water close to land, the waves become higher, sometimes resulting in monstrous waves that crash into the shoreline. Entire villages and seaports have been destroyed by tsunamis, often without inhabitants even feeling the earthquake that triggered the disaster. Tsunamis have been known to reach a vertical height of 10, 20, and even 30 meters (about 100 feet, or the height of a 10-story building)!

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Oregon State University

The Tsunami Wave Basin located at Oregon State University is the world's largest facility for studying the effects of large waves. It provides testing capabilities and experimental data to tsunami researchers around the world.

This facility is unique in that state-of-the-art information technology (IT) will allow sharing of the research experience over the internet with remote collaborators, other researchers, and students. Not only can the experiments be viewed in real time but access to archived data will allow replay and "post-game" analysis of interesting phases of the tsunami experiment. By understanding how tsunamis behave, we can predict with greater accuracy when and where they will strike, so that coastal populations can be evacuated inland when necessary. Even more important, we can learn how to build structures that will withstand or help dissipate their force.

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