A tsunami is a series of fast, low and long ocean waves that move out from a central area, due to a sudden disturbance of a large body of water.

In the deep ocean a tsunami can travel up to 950km/hr (the speed of an aeroplane) and may be less than 1m high.

As a tsunami approaches the coastline they slow down but do not lose energy. The back of the wave catches up with the front, causing the wave to grow up to several metres high

The energy moving through water makes a tsunami very dangerous.

Historically, tsunamis are rare along the NT coastline. The NT has a low to moderate risk from tsunami because it is protected by shallow waters and a large tidal variation.

The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre (JATWC) runs 24 hours a day to identify any tsunami threat to Australia.

In Australia, warnings will be issued through the media, but you should also listen to emergency workers, lifeguards and Surf Lifesavers.

To get official alerts go to the JATWC tsunami warning page at the Bureau of Meteorology website.

If you hear a tsunami warning

If you hear a tsunami warning:

  • move inland at least 1km or to higher ground at least 10m
  • do not stay and watch
  • don’t go back to the beach until you are told it is safe.

Tides and currents may be dangerous for some time after a tsunami.

More information

Go to the following websites for more information about tsunamis:

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