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A team of scientists led by Yoshinobu Tsuji of the University of Tokyo has found that the largest waves in last December's tsunami were much higher than previously thought.

The team showed that in certain areas the waves averaged about 24 metres above sea level, with onshore 'run-ups' often reaching more than 30 metres. Previous estimates put maximum wave height at 9-11 metres.

The findings imply a severe underestimation of the tsunami's magnitude and threat and are likely to prompt revisions to basic tsunami science and models.

The results are also likely to lead to the upgrading of the predicted size of tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean generated by earthquakes in the Cascadia Subduction Zone — a zone off the west coast of North America bearing many similarities to that off the coast of Sumatra.

Link to full Seattle Post-Intelligencer news story 

Read more about tsunamis in SciDev.Net's Tsunami update

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