- Major earthquakes occurring along subduction zones are especially hazardous, because they can trigger tsunamis and pose a potential danger to coastal communities and islands in the Pacific.
- Tsunamis are seismic sea waves caused by earthquakes, submarine landslides, and, infrequently, by eruptions of island volcanoes.
- During a major earthquake, the seafloor can move by several meters and an enormous amount of water is suddenly set into motion, sloshing back and forth for several hours. The result is a
series of waves that race across the ocean at speeds of more than 800 km per hour, comparable to those of commercial jetliners.
- The energy and momentum of these transoceanic waves can take them thousands of kilometers from their origin before slamming into far-distant islands or coastal areas.