Tidal Wave vs Tsunami: Difference and Comparison

Especially when it comes to tsunamis and tidal waves, many might claim both of them to be the same, which is not correct at all. The following are all the differences and other information about tidal waves and tsunamis to understand what they are.

Key Takeaways

  1. A tidal wave is a large wave caused by the gravitational pull of the sun and moon, while a tsunami is a series of ocean waves caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or landslides.
  2. A tidal wave is relatively smaller than a tsunami, which can reach heights of 100 feet or more.
  3. A tidal wave is a predictable event, occurring twice a day, while a tsunami is unpredictable and can occur at any time.

Tidal Wave vs Tsunami

Tidal waves, are waves caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun on the Earth’s tides, and they occur regularly and predictably in certain locations. Tsunamis, are waves caused by seismic activity such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or landslides under the ocean.

Tidal Wave vs Tsunami

A tidal wave is the highest wave that remains for a longer duration and causes due to gravitational and centrifugal forces.

In most cases, it does not cause any serious harm, but in exceptionally rare cases, it might lead to serious human injuries or even floods, sometimes destroying nature.

These are not only limited to oceans but can also be observed in several other water systems.

Tsunamis are a disaster that takes place when serious waves hit together with a strong force. This can be due to several reasons, the most common being the underground earthquakes that lead to disturbing the normal water surface.

It mostly takes place in the ocean. It is more common nowadays; there have been many tsunamis that have resulted in chaos and destruction.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonTidal WaveTsunami
CausesGravitational and centrifugal forces.Seaquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc.
IntensityLess intenseMore intense
FrequencyMore frequentLess frequent
LocationNot limited to oceansMostly takes place in oceans
DamageLess or noMore

What is Tidal Wave?

Tidal waves are long-period waves, which means they remain for a relatively long period. Two forces that are responsible for its rise are gravitational and centrifugal. The following are characteristics of a tidal wave that will help in the determination of them:

  • Due to rise in sea level.
  • Rising of water level to the highest position.
  • The revelation of the intertidal zone.
  • When water stops falling.
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These waves can also use as energies for several purposes. Some of them are the following:

  • Electricity: tidal waves are used as tidal energy to produce electricity; this is the most eco-friendly way of producing electricity as it does not cause any pollution.
  • Grain Mills: it is also used for crushing grains.

There are several advantages of energy produced by tidal waves, as they are renewable. There is no specific requirement of the type of water required for it.

The only required is the presence of tidal waves. And hence it can be renewed at any time, along it does not cause any harm to nature and the environment.

tidal wave

What is Tsunami?

The word tsunami is a Japanese word meaning harbor wave. A tsunami can be caused due to multiple reasons, the causes can be an underground earthquake, landslides, volcano eruptions, etc. that leads to disturbing the water level.

Its wave can be extremely high. The Pacific Ocean is a place that suffers from more than 50 % of tsunamis.

It is also called killer waves. Successive waves are way stronger than the initial waves. They can be extremely dangerous to anything.

For example, they can even undermine trees and can also lead to floods. It is common in Japan but is spreading to several countries. Without coming to notice, it can travel to 5000 miles per hour. Therefore it is the fastest.

There might not be any impact of the tsunami, whereas there can be serious harm sometimes. It depends upon the length and strength of the waves.

It causes serious floods sometimes in history also, there have been tsunamis that have killed millions of people, destroying their life.


Main Differences Between Tidal Wave and Tsunami

  1. The main difference between tidal waves and tsunami is the causes behind these natural disasters. The cause behind tidal waves are minor, such as they are the result of centrifugal and gravitational forces of the sun and moon, whereas the causes behind tsunamis are major; they are the result of underwater earthquakes or seaquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, etc.
  2. In terms of intensity, tidal waves may or may not be intense enough to cause serious harm and damage to the nature of human, whereas tsunami is more intense and they can cause extremely dangerous results to both human and nature, for example, it is the basic reason behind floods.
  3. Tidal Waves are more frequent as they can take place due to easier and more frequent reasons, they do not need any special occasions, while for tsunamis they are less frequent only a few occasions or conditions lead to the formation of stronger tides and disturbances under the water that further results in the tsunami.
  4. Tidal waves are more likely to take place in other water bodies than the oceans, and they can take place in lakes and rivers inside the country’s boundary, whereas tsunami is more likely to take place in oceans, it is observed that more than 60 percent of the tsunami has taken in the oceans only.
  5. Tidal waves cause less or no damage to anyone, whereas tsunami causes the maximum or less harmful damage to nature and human life.
Difference Between Tidal Wave and Tsunami
  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/23276665.2005.10779298
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=kUEoDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA25&dq=tidal+waves+and+tsunami&ots=8-0p1grZGv&sig=kXFy0H5CMsgDoTQ6_4s1tiyiWEY
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278434309002945
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Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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9 thoughts on “Tidal Wave vs Tsunami: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The renewable energy potential of tidal waves is promising and merits further investigate to capitalize on this natural resource.

  2. The frequency of tidal waves and tsunamis is an important factor, especially when considering the potential risks associated with these natural phenomena.

  3. The potential speed of a tsunami is truly staggering. It’s important to recognize the sheer force and speed at which tsunamis can travel.

  4. When comparing tidal waves and tsunamis, location is also a key factor as it greatly impacts the frequency at which they occur and the potential risks associated with them.

    • I agree. It’s interesting how these natural occurrences can impact different geographical areas in such distinct ways.

  5. The different causes of tidal waves and tsunamis is an important distinction. Understanding these root causes is vital for prevention and risk assessment.

  6. The possibility of using tidal waves as a source of renewable energy should be further explored, especially considering the potential environmental benefits.

  7. The historical context and impact of tsunamis cannot be overstated. We must learn from these events to mitigate future risks.

  8. The difference in intensity of the waves, the fact that tsunamis are more severe, makes the distinction between these phenomena an essential one.


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