Surprisingly destructive tsunamis challenge conventional wisdom


  • J. Wakefield


A single outlier is just that. But when a string of data anomalies crop up, it is probably time to rethink a conventional model or theory.

In the past 2 years, there have been a series of four modest-sized earthquakes that have produced tsunamis with surprisingly high runups of 3–9 m. Modern models predicted much smaller forms of the destructive waves—which typically travel at speeds of nearly 800 km an hour—than those that actually hit the shores of Nicaragua, Indonesia, and Japan during the past couple years.