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Nukes against tsunamis?

  1. May 19, 2017 #1
    Would it be possible to use nuclear explosions in order to reduce the amplitude of a tsunami wave?

    This refers to tsunamis caused both by earthquakes and asteroid impact. Imagine a 100-500 meter asteroid falls into an ocean and produces a tsunami. In this case the tsunami can be anticipated well if the asteroid is seen say 1 day before the impact. Could one use nukes to reduce its effects on coastal regions?

    Where would the best hits be applied: directly on the tsunami to locally dissipate its energy, or farther away and then count on wave interference to reduce the main wave?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 19, 2017 #2


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    Interference is not always destructive, it is also constructive. If the tsunami waves are combined with a nuclear generated pattern of similar amplitude, then it can be expected that the sum will have twice the amplitude of the original.

    By adding fuel to the fire you will be held legally responsible for what would otherwise have been a natural outcome. How can you pay all those claims ?
  4. May 19, 2017 #3
    I'm thinking about destructive interference at a certain site - say a given coastline. I don't take into consideration much what happens farther away. This is because the waves will reduce in amplitude the farther they go away anyway.

    But I want to see if a given site close to the impact area can be protected; say a place 500-1000 km away from impact point. 5000 km away the waves will be weaker anyway. Of course, what happens farther away must be taken into consideration, but for now let's see if the nuke vs. tsunami idea is feasible at close range.

    I did some quick calculations to have a sense of the energy involved. A 100 m asteroid with density around 2 times that of water, traveling at 30 km/s relative to Earth's surface would give an impact energy of about 250 megatons (Mt) TNT. Now I don't know how much of this energy would transfer to the tsunami, but I think it is a small part; most will go away as heat. Anyway, there are nukes of 1 Mt TNT or more. So in principle the tsunami energy can be matched. The main issue is exactly how to do it.
  5. May 19, 2017 #4


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    it doesn't really work that way
    the amplitude of the waves are only small in the deep ocean once they reach a continental shelf or coastline they rise up in height again

    I would severely doubt it a tsunami wave can be 100's of km long you would need lots of detonations to stop the waves

    you haven't really thought about it have you ?

    consider all of it would be pointless anyway .... with all the nuclear blasts the radioactive fallout would destroy the oceans and the coastlines for many many years to come
    the overall result would be worse than the tsunami. At least after the tsunami has been and gone the survivors can rebuild and go on living. That is going to be difficult after one of more nuclear blasts contaminate everything for 100's to 1000's of kms

  6. May 19, 2017 #5


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    Thread closed pending moderation.

    Edit: the thread will stay closed. The OP has been answered ("No") and there is not much to add.
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
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