A tsunami (津波?) (pronounced /(t)suːˈnɑːmi/) is a series of water waves (called a tsunami wave train) that is caused when a large volume of a body of water, such as an ocean, is rapidly displaced. The Japanese term is literally translated into "harbor wave."
Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions (detonations of nuclear devices at sea), landslides and other mass movements, bolide impacts, and other disturbances above or below water all have the potential to generate a tsunami. Due to the immense volumes of water and energy involved, the effects of tsunamis can be devastating.
The Greek historian Thucydides was the first to relate tsunami to submarine quakes, but understanding of the nature of tsunami remained slim until the 20th century and is the subject of ongoing research.
Many early geological, geographical, and oceanographic texts refer to tsunamis as "seismic sea waves."
Some meteorological conditions, such as deep depressions that cause tropical cyclones, can generate a storm surge, called a meteotsunami, which can be several metres above normal tide levels. This is due to the low atmospheric pressure within the centre of the depression. As these storm surges come ashore, they may resemble (though are not) tsunamis, inundating vast areas of land. Such a storm surge inundated Burma (Myanmar) in May 2008.