Difference Between Tidal Wave and Tsunami

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


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Tidal Wave vs Tsunami

The difference between Tidal waves and Tsunami is that both of them are caused due to different events. Gravitational forces are the main reason behind the formation of tidal waves and seaquakes, underwater volcanic eruptions, undersea landslides, etc. are reasons or causes behind the formation of a tsunami. A tsunami is more dangerous and intense as it might result in floods, and there is no way of using it for some use, whereas tidal waves are way less dangerous and less intense and can be used in the form of energy for several uses. Other differences between tidal waves and tsunamis are mentioned below.

Tidal Wave vs Tsunami

A tidal wave is the highest wave that remains for a longer duration and of 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 results in chaos and destruction.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonTidal WaveTsunami
CausesGravitational and centrifugal forces.Seaquake, 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. 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.

These waves can also use as energies for several purposes. Some of them are 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 type of pollution.
  • Grain Mills: it also used for crushing the 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 the nature and environment.

What is Tsunami?

The word tsunami is a Japanese word with the meaning harbor wave. A tsunami can be caused due to multiple reasons, the causes can be, and 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 Tsunami.

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 has been tsunami that had 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 minors, such they are the result of centrifugal and gravitational forces of sun and moon whereas the causes behind tsunami are major; they are the result of underwater earthquake 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 tsunami they are less frequent only 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, they can take place in lakes, 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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