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Texas A&M Scientist Prepares for Sri Lanka Expedition

By: Carly Kennelly
By: Carly Kennelly

After last month's deadly tsunami in Sri Lanka emotions run high. Survivors are trying to live through the heartache and destruction. Meanwhile, a team of American scientists will try find out more about the tragedy that has killed hundreds of thousands.

Texas A&M assistant professor, Patrick Lynett is on the team. He and five engineers from other universities will leave for Sri Lanka on Friday to measure water levels and examine the damage.

"What this data includes is things like water marks on trees and mud lines on buildings and how far the tsunami went inland," said Lynett.

The team will collect a week's worth of data to better predict the behavior of tsunamis when they hit land.

When scientists return they will recreate the tsunami on a 1/10 scale in a giant wave tank on the A&M campus.

"We will take that data integrate it into laboratory experiments and models in the hope that eventually we can more efficiently design buildings to withstand tsunami forces and better evacuate people in coastal towns," said Lynett.

Lynett said the destruction is so bad because Sri Lanka is underdeveloped. So many of the structures are weak and there are few places of higher ground to flee to.

"The most effective way to save lives is going to be to educate people, tell them when they feel an earthquake or when they see the ocean start to recede that these are evidence that a tsunami is coming and they need to run away from the shore lines as fast as they can," said Lynett.

It's information that everyone needs to know because Lynett said all coastal locations around the world are prone to a mega-tsunami.


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