After a while, the current reversed at the same speed, he said. A nearby gauge recorded that the sea level changed by 1.3 feet.
Angove said it is a specific feature of tsunamis for water to be drawn out to sea and then rapidly rush back in, and the water speeds Ebersole reported in Rhode Island indicated something other than a storm surge.
He said researchers are looking for a cause. One possibility is a rare meteotsunami (pronounced MEE’-tee-oh tsoo-NAHM’-ee), which is a tsunami caused by weather. Or it could have been caused by a landslide off the continental shelf, which is less rare but still uncommon, he said.
Angove hopes to send a boat with sonar out to the shelf to look for a landslide and help determine what happened.