Tsunamis Generated by Meteorite Impacts in the Oceans

If a large meteorite struck the ocean, huge tsunamis would be formed, hundreds and perhaps thousands of feet tall (hundreds of m). These would run up on coastlines, washing away the debris from the earthquakes of a few moments or hours before. Impacts that hit water cause devastation over a larger area than impacts that hit land because of the far-traveling effects of the tsunamis. Impacts that have an energy release of 1,000 megatons (907 megatonnes) should generate tsunamis about 15 feet (5 m) tall and travel more than 600 miles (1,000 km). For impacts that are significantly larger than this (above 10,000 megatons, or 9,070 megatonnes) the damage from the tsunami is much greater, and covers a much larger area than the damage from the blast of the impactor itself. The tsunami associated with the Chicxulub impact on the Yucat√°n Peninsula may have initially been thousands of feet (hundreds of m) high, washing over much of the Gulf Coast of the United States and Mexico, and devastating the Caribbean.

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