Mathematician Wants to Fight Tsunamis With Sound Waves
His novel approach focuses on reducing the wave's energy
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2017 11:17 AM CST
In this March 11, 2011 aerial photo, a tsunami hit Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan.   (Kyodo News via AP, File)

(Newser) – Tsunamis are among the deadliest forces in nature. Look no further than the one in the Indian Ocean in 2004 that killed more than 230,000 people after being triggered by a powerful earthquake, notes a post at But what if tsunamis could be drained of their power before they reach land? A mathematician at Cardiff University in Wales is looking at just that possibility, and he reports in the journal Heliyon that firing acoustic-gravity waves at a tsunami could do the trick by reducing the killer wave's energy and size while it's still far out at sea. AGWs are naturally occurring, deep-ocean sound waves that can stretch for hundreds of miles and move at the speed of sound.

"Up until now, little attention has been paid to trying to mitigate tsunamis and the potential of acoustic-gravity waves remains largely unexplored," says Cardiff's Usama Kadri. But as he acknowledges, this is easier said than done, and Kadri does not propose a precise method for generating and dispensing the AGWs, reports R&D Magazine. The trick is "developing some sort of underwater cannon—or modulator—capable of generating AGW frequency blasts," explains UPI. Like tsunamis, AGWs also can be generated by earthquakes, and Kadri has shown that they can be used as an early warning system against tsunamis. He suggests it might be possible to manipulate one of these quake-generated AGWs as a force against a threatening tsunami, essentially fighting nature with nature. (Glacial melting in the Himalayas could trigger a tsunami.)

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