PerspectiveGeology

Understanding Sediments—Reducing Tsunami Risk

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Science  01 Jun 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6085, pp. 1117-1118
DOI: 10.1126/science.1221452

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Summary

As illustrated on 11 March 2011, tsunamis can cause heavy casualties and hardship and bring about substantial economic loss and environmental change (1, 2). Yet, every tsunami provides new information about the processes that govern inundation characteristics. The primary means for inferring the frequency and magnitude of past, unobserved tsunamis comes from the sediments that they leave behind (3, 4). These deposits can also yield data on tsunami characteristics such as water height, inundation distance, and number of waves—information that is pivotal to forecasting the magnitude of future events.