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Shortcut math predicts tsunami height quickly

Chilean quake tests new method for rapid warning about waves

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2:21pm, September 18, 2015
tsunami projection graphic

WAVE RACE  A magnitude 8.3 earthquake struck September 16 off the coast of Chile, triggering a tsunami that radiated across the Pacific Ocean (projected here using existing methods). The event proved an unexpected test of new numerical calculations that can provide faster tsunami predictions.  

The deadly magnitude 8.3 earthquake off the coast of Chile on September 16 sent an enormous pulse of water racing away from the quake’s epicenter, prompting an evacuation of more than 1 million Chileans. This surging seawater provided an unanticipated test for a new, faster way to forecast quake-generated tsunamis.

Using simplified mathematical estimates of how earthquakes trigger tsunamis, researchers correctly approximated the height of the Chilean tsunami in a matter of seconds after earthquake data flowed in. When paired with upgraded earthquake-sensing technology, the technique could deliver accurate tsunami forecasts in half the time of current methods, the researchers reportin a paper to be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth.

Faster predictions will help emergency managers quickly dispatch resources to areas most likely to be devastated,

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