Not all earthquakes are strong enough to generate a tsunami. That’s the gist of it — it takes a big disturbance to generate enough energy to cause tsunamis. Wikipedia breaks it down nicely with the following: “The 1960 Valdivia earthquake (Mw 9.5) (19:11 hrs UTC), 1964 Alaska earthquake (Mw 9.2), and 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake (Mw 9.2) (00:58:53 UTC) are recent examples of powerful megathrust earthquakes that generated tsunamis (known as teletsunamis) that can cross entire oceans. Smaller (Mw 4.2) earthquakes in Japan can trigger tsunamis (called local and regional tsunamis) that can only devastate nearby coasts, but can do so in only a few minutes.” The Mw rating is the moment magnitude rating, which measures the amount of energy involved in the earthquake when it occurs.
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