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Brycen Martin

The Quarry Lane SchoolClass of 2023



  • "Do meteotsunamis form from underwater volcanic eruptions?" with mentor Jaclyn (Dec. 6, 2022)

Brycen's Symposium Presentation

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Do meteotsunamis form from underwater volcanic eruptions?

Started June 23, 2022

Abstract or project description

It's long been known that underwater volcanic activity leads to tsunamis that can cause major loss of life and millions of dollars of damage. The exact mechanism that causes the tsunamis is unknown due to a lack of data. Some scientists believe that the force from the volcanic eruption pushes the ocean water up, causing a tsunami. Other scientists believe that changes in atmospheric pressure cause meteotsunamis to form. This paper explores the physics behind these events.

Underwater volcanic eruptions lead to meteotsunamis forming due to a change in air pressure. This change in air pressure can occur due to pyroclastic flows from volcanoes to react with water. This reaction creates steam near the ocean floor. Steam is less dense than water and it will start to float towards the top. This creates an area of high pressure below the surface of the ocean, while the air above the ocean is at a low pressure. The difference in pressure causes the water to rise out of the water to equalize the pressure. This process occurs for several minutes and increases the height of the meteotsunami, causing more damage to the land.

By figuring out the mechanics behind meteotsunamis forming from underwater volcanic activity, scientists will be able to predict the magnitude of these events. This will give people time to react to these events and will save millions of lives.

It is still unknown whether underwater volcanic activity causes tsunamis or meteotsunamis, but there is more evidence pointing towards meteotsunamis forming due to atmospheric pressure changes.