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How Are Waves Formed?


Waves roll continually across the sea. Sometimes they are smooth and gentle; sometimes they are high and powerful, pounding and tearing at the shore. Except for those generated by earthquakes or volcanic explosions, most are caused by winds blowing over the sea. Waves stirred up by distant storms can travel hundreds of miles before reaching the shore.

Most waves are less than 10 feet high, measured from their top, or crest, to the bottom of the trough between waves. But in stormy seas they can be much higher. The biggest wave on record, observed in the Pacific in 1933, was 112 feet high.

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