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Oceans

How To Make a Tsunami Animation

This cartoon shows schematically how a subduction earthquake generates a tsunami. The green material is the lithosphere (which is brittle) and the purple-red material is the asthenosphere (which, while still solid, is deformable). The lithosphere is divided into the overriding (continental) plate on the right and the downgoing (oceanic) plate on the left. The overriding plate is locked against the downgoing plate, so as the downgoing plate subducts, the overriding plate is progressively deformed. The front edge of the overriding plate is flexed downwards while the coastline is lifted. After a few hundred years, so much strain energy has been stored in the system (think of a spring that is wound up too tight) that something has to give. The result is an earthquake. The earthquake relieves the accumulated strain in just a matter of minutes, during which the overriding plate relaxes back to its original unstrained condition. The toe of the overriding plate kicks up and the shoreline drops.

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Tsunami Warning!

When a major undersea earthquake occurs near the coast, a destructive tsunami can result that will hit near-by coasts in minutes and also travel across entire oceans causing damage 1000’s of kilometers away and up to 24 hours later. To alert far-away coasts, internationally coordinated tsunami early warning systems, such as the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (PTWS), have been established to quickly provide tsunami threat information to countries.

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Bathymetry and Topography

These images were generated from the ETOPO2v2 (2006) database. ETOPO2v2 was created at NGDC from digital databases of seafloor and land elevations on a 2-minute latitude/longitude grid (1 minute of latitude = 1 nautical mile, or 1.852 km). Assumed illumination is from the west; shading is computed as a function of the east-west slope of the surface with a nonlinear exaggeration favoring low-relief areas. A Cylindrical Equidistant projection was used for the world image, which spans 360 degrees of of longitude from 180 West eastward to 180 East; latitude coverage is from 90 degrees North to 90 degrees South. The resolution of the gridded data varies from true 2-minute for the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Ocean floors and all land masses to 5 minutes for the Arctic Ocean floor. Clicking on a square above brings up a 512 x 512 pixel color relief image of the 45 degree area selected, clicking on the 512 x 512 image brings up the full-resolution 1350 x 1350 pixel (roughly 3 mb) color image of the area.

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Trash Talk

We love the ocean. And when you love something, you want to protect it. Unfortunately, the ocean is being filled with trash. And people all over the world who care about the health of the ocean are doing something about it. They’re talking trash and taking action. You probably already recycle, and that’s a great start. So now, let’s talk about how you can prevent some of the surprising and sneaky ways that trash flows into our rivers and the ocean. Come learn about marine debris and be part of the action.

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Podcast: NOAA and the Octonauts

Welcome to “NOAA and the Octonauts,” an episode-by-episode discussion of the children’s TV show the Octonauts, which features a crew of quirky and courageous undersea adventurers. Their mission: to explore the world’s ocean, rescue the creatures who live there, and protect their habitats. Our monthly podcast brings together experts from inside and outside of NOAA to help you and the children you care about learn more about the real-life versions of the Octonauts sea creatures and the ocean they call home.

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