Rising sea waters have struck Tasmania and Norfolk Island as a tsunami makes its way towards the east coast of Australia.
NSW and Queensland are expected to see similar effects to sea conditions, which will accelerate tidal movements, the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre (JATWC) says.
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The alert follows a massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake which struck off the coast of Chile, toppling buildings, cutting power and pushing the death toll beyond 200.
The JATWC has issued a tsunami alert, declaring a “potential tsunami threat” for Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island.
A 40cm rise in sea levels at Norfolk Island have been observed about 10.30am (AEST) on Sunday and a 10cm rise at Southport, in Tasmania.
“Our warning will definitely be continuing for at least the remainder of the day (Sunday) and we wouldn’t be cancelling it for quite some time yet,” JATWC spokesman Alasdair Hainsworth told AAP.
Rising waters and associated dangerous currents may hit NSW, Queensland and Victoria from any time on Sunday.
“It’s unlikely there will be big waves but very significant variations in sea levels in a relatively short space of time,” Mr Hainsworth said.
“It’s almost like the tide comes in and goes out in less than half an hour.
“So you can imagine the kind of currents and the potential danger to people in boats and also, more importantly, in the water.
“They could easily find themselves in very strong currents, very, very quickly.”
The effects on Tasmania and Norfolk Island could be the beginning of more activity for Australia’s east coast.
“We can expect to see the effects move on to the NSW coast very shortly now, and then on to the Queensland coast,” Mr Hainsworth said.