Quake Question #2: Are Underground Tsunami Shelters a Good Idea?

Readers ask: Would it be possible to build underground emergency tsunami shelters that would be insulated from the earthquakes that would surely precede the wave?

Science answers: This is technically possible but probably not a good idea. It would be psychologically difficult to persuade people to go underground to avoid a tsunami. Debris could pile up around or on top of any entrance. And, as in this case, coastal areas hit by a tsunami can remain flooded for several days, a situation aggravated in some areas by ground subsidence.

For a complete list of quake questions and answers, see our Quake Questions page. For our complete coverage of the crisis in Japan, see our Japan Earthquake page.

Posted in Asia Japan Quake 2011