Understanding Underwater Earthquakes

Also referred to as seaquakes, underwater earthquakes occur beneath or at the bottom of water bodies, most especially oceans as the name suggests. Those that occur beneath oceans to trigger tsunamis are also identified as seaquakes. Unlike normal earthquakes, which can result from movements inside the earth and volcanic activities, underwater earthquakes are most often caused by an actual earthquake at the sea bed or ocean floor.

Causes of Underwater Earthquakes

The most prominent and defined causes of seaquakes are underwater landslides, volcanic activities in oceans and near seacoasts and plate tectonics.

When landslides and volcanic activities occur underwater, rocks may break beneath and within the sea bed besides volcanic activities to bring about underwater earthquakes. Such happenings lead to violent disruptions and changes in the lying of the ocean floor; situations which are phrased in Seismology as “submarine or underwater earthquakes.” They are also sometimes caused by when continental and oceanic plates shift and push into each other underwater.

Apart from these pronounced causes, the falling of meteorite and comet into oceans and huge calving icebergs could also bring about some minor seaquakes (most at times near shores or harbors).

Effects of Underwater Earthquakes

The major effect of underwater earthquakes is the tsunami. Tsunamis occur as a result of great movements beneath the sea  that cause large waves to also break violently and leap into the air at incredible speeds. Ocean water is pushed upward and towards shores when there’s much volcanic and quake-activities beneath the sea. There are many examples of tsunamis caused by underwater earthquakes, but the most pronounced was the one which occurred in Japan.

Besides tsunamis, underwater earthquakes may also bring about issues of catastrophic flooding, damage to properties and loss of lives.

Coping with Underwater Earthquakes

Although seaquakes are natural phenomena and for that matter not completely controllable, the destruction they usually bring about can be prevented or in rare cases, completely avoided.

Seismologists, scientists who study seaquakes and ocean waves, are to some extent able to predict the occurrence of underwater earthquakes and the violent movements of sea waves that can cause destruction to people and property.

In such cases, people may be forewarned to flee areas likely to experience seaquakes, and the possible results of tsunamis and flooding, or sometimes evacuated to other places. Movable properties can also be taken care off so as not to leave them at the mercy of such underwater earthquakes.