Does being under or on water provide any protection from an asteroid hitting the opposite side of the Earth over being in or on land or in air? Why?

Will the shock wave follow the curvature of the Earth through the oceans?

I'm trying to go with the worst case survivable scenario.


This is from a broad question that I am breaking up in 3 questions. Feel free to edit.

Scenario 3. In a submarine or capsule underwater?

Does being in the air provide any protection from an asteroid?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You don't specify in your question whether the asteroid hits terrain or ocean, nor the size of the hypothetical impactor. Both are major variables, without which a viable answer can't be provided. $\endgroup$
    – BillDOe
    Mar 4, 2018 at 21:10
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    $\begingroup$ This gif doesn't bring anything to the question. $\endgroup$
    – plannapus
    Mar 7, 2018 at 9:46
  • $\begingroup$ an underwater chockwave is several times faster than the speed of sound is in air so beeing underwater is probably not a good thing. $\endgroup$ Mar 7, 2018 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ @trondhansen but will the shock wave follow the curvature of the Earth? $\endgroup$
    – Muze
    Mar 7, 2018 at 22:20
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    $\begingroup$ Not only does it follow it, but if you are exactly opposite the impact site you have ot deal with all the disparate shockwaves meeting at that spot which can create a new volcanic hotspot. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Mar 8, 2018 at 15:25

1 Answer 1


No. It depends on the severity. Water would be worse. If an asteroid hit in the ocean we would experience tsunamis the size we get from large magnitude earthquakes. The displacement of the water would be massive. It would also cause things like swimming pools sloshing around, common to the videos you see of hotels from the 2011 Japan earthquake. If it hit on the opposite side of the Earth, land would still be a better spot. Tsunamis can translate vast distances depending on the level of energy and surface deformation they create. Being in a submarine? Again, no. A tsunamis can pass under boats. However, impact from an asteroid vs sea floor deformation from earthquakes are different functions. The submarine one, would require someone with a little more expertise.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ RE: "...tsunamis the size we get from large magnitude earthquakes." No, they would be orders of magnitude larger. If a large enough asteroid hit the ocean, it would punch a hole in the ocean as deep as the ocean itself. If it hit, say, the Marianas Trench, it would punch a hole 6 miles deep. Water would rush in to fill that void, creating a tsunami as high as theoretically possible. I don't know how high that might be, but a mile or so doesn't seem unreasonable. $\endgroup$
    – BillDOe
    Mar 4, 2018 at 21:07

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