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Mar 23 / Dave Schumaker

Whirlpools

photo by MShades on flickr

Geology in Motion has a great writeup on how whirlpools work.

The natural whirlpools in Japan occur in the Naruto Strait, a channel between two smal islands, Tokushima and Awiji. The straight is less than 1 mile in width, and connects the Pacific Ocean and the Inland Sea, a body of water that separates Honshu and Shikoku. Tides here have a range up to 5.6 feet, creating a difference in water level of nearly 5′ between the Inland Sea and the Pacific. Because the strait is so narrow, water rushes through it at 8-9 mph, four times per day, and during spring tides the speed can reach 12 mph. At that time, whirlpools up to 66′ in diameter can occur.

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