• A tsunami generated by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami strikes Japan.

A tsunami generated by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami strikes Japan. (Photo : Getty Images)

The massive energy from tsunamis can be dissipated using deep-ocean sound waves, claims a mathematician from Cardiff University in Wales.

Dr. Usama Kadri from Cardiff University's School of Mathematics believes human lives can be saved by using acoustic-gravity waves (AGWs) against tsunamis triggered by earthquakes, landslides and other violent geological events.

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AGWs are naturally occurring sounds waves that move through the deep ocean at the speed of sound and can travel thousands of meters below the surface.

AGWs can measure tens or even hundreds of kilometers in length and it is thought that certain life forms such as plankton that are unable to swim against a current rely on the waves to aid their movement, enhancing their ability to find food.

Dr. Kadri proposes that if we can find a way to engineer these waves, they can be fired at an incoming tsunami. AGWs will react with the wave in such a way that reduces its amplitude, or height, and causes its energy to be dissipated over a large area.

By the time the tsunami reaches the shoreline, the reduced height of the tsunami will minimizew the damage caused to both civilians and the environment, Dr. Kadri wrote in a paper published in the journal Heliyon.

Dr. Kadri also believes this process of firing AGWs at a tsunami could be repeated continuously until the tsunami is completely dispersed.

"Within the last two decades, tsunamis have been responsible for the loss of almost half a million lives, widespread long-lasting destruction, profound environmental effects and global financial crisis," said Dr. Kadri.

"Up until now, little attention has been paid to trying to mitigate tsunamis and the potential of acoustic-gravity waves remains largely unexplored."

In order to use AGWs in tsunami mitigation, engineers will first need to devise highly accurate AGW frequency transmitters or modulators, which Dr. Kadri concedes would be challenging.

It may also be possible to utilize the AGWs naturally generated in the ocean when a violent geological event, such as an earthquake, occurs. This essentially means using nature's natural processes against itself.

"In practice, generating the appropriate acoustic-gravity waves introduces serious challenges due to the high energy required for an effective interaction with a tsunami," he said.

"However, this study has provided proof-of-concept that devastating tsunamis could be mitigated by using acoustic-gravity waves to redistribute the huge amounts of energy stored within the wave, potentially saving lives and billions of pounds worth of damage."