Watch: How a volcanic eruption causes a tsunami

A tsunami killed more than 200 people and injured hundreds on the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra following an underwater landslide believed to be caused by the erupting Anak Krakatau volcano, officials and media said on December 23.

Hundreds of homes and other buildings were “heavily damaged” when the tsunami struck, almost without warning, along the rim of the Sunda Strait late on December 22, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the disaster mitigation agency, said.

According to information found on the International Tsunami Information Center website, violent volcanic eruptions, although relatively infrequent, represent 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.

Watch: Tsunami caused by volcanic sources

This animation video by Geoscience Australia shows a tsunami generated following a volcanic eruption.


One of the largest and most destructive tsunamis ever recorded has also been caused by the Anak Krakatau volcano. In August 26, 1883, after the explosion and collapse of the volcano of Krakatoa (Krakatau), waves that reached 135 feet were generated, destroying 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 civilisation in Greece was caused in 1490 B.C. by the explosion/collapse of the volcano of Santorin in the Aegean Sea, according to the information posted on the ITIC website.

What caused the latest tsunami?

UNISDR, the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, has tweeted this graphic to explain the cause of the latest tsunami in Indonesia.



Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 3:19:30 PM |

Next Story