Would it be possible to surf a tidal wave? © Getty Images

Would it be possible to surf a tidal wave?

A tsunami isn't the same as a regular wave and its nature means it's "unsurfable" - and you'd be crazy to try to.

Asked by: Kevin Scott, Edinburgh

Advertisement

Definitely not. A tsunami is nothing like a regular wave; it isn’t a surface phenomenon generated by the wind, it is a displacement of the entire water column as a result of an undersea earthquake. A tsunami does not have a clean, surfable face, it is just a roiling mass of white water full of rocks and coral. The wave may be 160km long and the tail end of it will be travelling at 800km/h. This sudden deceleration as this enormous mass of water hits the shore causes the wave to pile up into a surge that may be 30m high and it will kill anyone caught in its path.


Advertisement

Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.