Tsunami Facts

A tsunami is a series of fast moving waves in the ocean caused by powerful earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. A tsunami has a very long wavelength. It can be hundreds of kilometers long. See the fact file below for more information about tsunamis.
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  • Tsunami is a Japanese word. “Tsu” translates to harbor and “nami” to wave.
  • When a body of water is rapidly displaced, a series of waves are created. These series of waves are called “tsunami”.
  • These waves are usually 10 meters high.
  • Tsunami’s can be caused by:
    • Meteorite impacts
    • Underwater explosions
    • Volcanic eruptions
    • Mass movement above or under water
    • Earthquakes
    • Nuclear weapons testing in the ocean
  • If the water along a shoreline begins to recede dramatically, it most likely means that a tsunami will follow in a few seconds or minutes.
  • Animals are also known to alert people to an oncoming tsunami. It is believed that their superior hearing can detect the noise of the approaching tsunami.
  • There are tsunami warning systems in the ocean. They are sensors attached to buoys that transmit data about the ocean.
  • Tsunami’s have killed many people throughout recorded history. They also destroy towns, houses and farmland.
  • The maximum death toll due to tsunami has been 283,000 in 2004 in the Indian Ocean. The second largest has been 100,000 in 1755 in Portugal, Morocco and the United Kingdom. The third largest is 70,000 in 1908 in Italy.
  • Scientists continue to work on the technology that can send an alert that warns people of an approaching tsunami.