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BarnacleBill's avatar

Has the Pacific Garbage Patch been affected by the tsunami's movement across the Pacific?

Asked by BarnacleBill (16083points) March 11th, 2011

What’s happened to the floating plastic Atlantis, the size of Texas? Is it still there?

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4 Answers

PhiNotPi's avatar

Yes, it is still there. Out in the open ocean a tsunami is almost unnoticeable. The amplitude (height) of the wave is many times lower, and it has a much longer wavelength. If you were on a boat in the middle of the Pacific, the slow rise and fall of the water level will not be noticed by anyone onboard. Also, each individual water particle doesn’t move far when a wave passes through it, with the molecules following a circular pattern. There is only large horizontal movement of water in shallow areas. The plastic atlantis will hardly budge when a tsunami goes through it.

ETpro's avatar

In the middle of the ocean, if you were sitting in a rowboat fishing—hopefully with a yacht or mother ship nearby so you didn’t have to row back to shore—you would not even notice a tsunami passing you. The sonic wave there is probably a foot high at most, but is very wide, so that in contains an enormous volume of water. The wave propagates through the water at speeds near the speed of sound in water, about that of a jet airliner. The actual speed is relative to the depth at the point, but is typically near 600 MPH. But the water is basically just moving up and down. There is virtually no current imparted from the wave to the water. Only as the wave rushes toward shore and the bottom becomes shallow does bottom resistance begin to impede progress of the leading edge of the wave. The trailing water then stacks up on the leading edge, building a giant wall of water rushing onshore with terrible destructive force.

Now I said all that to arrive at the answer, which is “No.” the tsunami shouldn’t do much of anything to the Pacific Garbage Patch. If anything, it will wash more detritus into the Pacific and make a bad situation there even worse.

flutherother's avatar

The tsunami probably stopped for a moment, thought who’s done this, and then moved on again saying ‘I’m going to get those SOB’s’

mattbrowne's avatar

Imagine the garbage to be the middle ball here in this picture:

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