Mains Practice Question


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What is a tsunami? How earthquake trigger a tsunami? Discuss why tsunamis keep forming in the island country.
A Simple Introduction about Tsunami

A tsunami, derived from the Japanese words "tsu" (harbor) and "nami" (wave), refers to a series of long-wavelength waves triggered by various natural phenomena, most commonly earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or underwater landslides. These waves can propagate across vast distances in the ocean, causing devastation upon reaching coastal areas.

It is the central part of the answer and one should understand the demand of the question to provide rich content.
  • Tsunamis are primarily triggered by earthquakes that involve the sudden vertical movement of the ocean floor. When an earthquake occurs beneath the ocean, particularly at subduction zones where tectonic plates converge, the displacement of large volumes of water leads to the formation of tsunami waves. This displacement can result from the upward or downward movement of the sea floor, generating powerful waves that propagate outward from the earthquake epicenter.
  • The phenomenon of tsunamis occurring frequently in island countries, such as Japan and those situated in the Pacific Ocean, can be attributed to their location within seismically active regions. These regions, notably the Pacific Ring of Fire, are characterized by the convergence of multiple tectonic plates, leading to frequent seismic activity, volcanic eruptions, and subsequent tsunami formation.
  • For instance, Japan, situated along the Pacific Ring of Fire, experiences a high frequency of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to the complex interaction of tectonic plates. In 2011, Japan witnessed the devastating impact of a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami, resulting in widespread destruction and loss of life.
  • Similarly, India's coastal regions, particularly Gujarat, are vulnerable to tsunamis resulting from seismic activity in the Mekran coast. The Indian Ocean region, including countries like Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka, has also experienced catastrophic tsunamis, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami triggered by a 9.3 magnitude earthquake.
The ending of the answer should be on a positive note and it should have a forward-looking approach.

While not all earthquakes or volcanic eruptions lead to tsunami formation, the propensity for tsunamis in island countries and coastal regions is heightened due to their exposure to seismic activity and geological instability. Understanding the underlying mechanisms of tsunami generation and implementing effective early warning systems are crucial steps in mitigating the impact of these natural disasters and safeguarding vulnerable coastal communities.

Other Points to Consider 

Pacific Island Countries

Tsunami in India



Previous Year Questions

1. Discuss about the vulnerability of India to earthquake related hazards. Give examples including the salient features of major disasters caused by earthquakes in different parts of India during the last three decades. (2021)

2. On December 2004, tsunami brought havoc on fourteen countries including India. Discuss the factors responsible for occurrence of tsunami and its effects on life and economy. In the light of guidelines of NDMA (2010) describe the mechanisms for preparedness to reduce the risk during such events. (2017)


05-Apr 2024