Tsunamis are first measured in similar ways to normal waves- by measuring the wave height (distance between the crest and trough) and measuring the wave length (the horizontal distance between two consecutive wave crests). The image below is the anatomy of a normal wave:
When tsunamis approach land, they are typically traveling at 30 mph with a wave height of up to 90 feet. Because tsunamis are most commonly caused by underwater earthquakes, the measurement of the earthquake on the Richter scale sometimes gives an indication of the impact of the tsunami. Another factor in measuring tsunamis is the Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART), which uses pressure recorders sitting at the bottom of the ocean to detect changes in the water pressure.
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