Tsunamis By: Mr. Gyasi and Ms. Mutchler Introduction A wave taller than your school sweeps in and washed everything away-people, buildings, pets, trees, and cars. This isn’t an action movies special effect. This terrifying disaster has really happened. A wave like this one is called a tsunami. Although tsunamis are rare, they can cause so much damage and destroy so many lives that people remember them for a long time. It is important for people who live near a coast, especially the coasts of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, to know what tsunamis are and how to be prepared for them. Causes of Tsunamis Tsunamis can be devastating, but what causes them? Even though they are deadly, there are only a few ways that they are caused. One way is by a giant earthquake. When the Earth’s tectonic plates scrape by each other or crash into each other, an earthquake is created. Sometimes, these earthquakes are so powerful that they move the water under the ocean. As a result, tsunamis are generated. Landslides and volcanoes under the ocean also cause tsunamis. When these powerful events happen, huge amounts of water move quickly and cause giant ripples. This shows that when a landslide happens in the ocean, material is moved, which creates a huge ripple in the water. Size and Speed of Tsunamis It might be hard to believe, but a tsunami can be 100 feet high. That is as tall as an eight-story building! It can travel across the ocean as fast as a jumbo jet, at about 500 miles per hour. You can’t see a tsunami traveling across the ocean. It does not become visible until it gets close to the shore. By then, it is too late to escape it. A tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake Other Interesting Facts Strangely, many animals seem able to escape the disaster of tsunamis. When they sense one coming, they quickly climbed to higher ground. Witnesses report that before the giant tsunami hit the coasts of the Indian Ocean in 2004, elephants trumpeted and climbed nearby hills. In addition, dogs wouldn’t go outside, and zoo animals hid in their shelters. Some people believe animals have a “sixth sense” that humans don’t have. However, many scientists point out that some animals just have much better hearing than humans, so they heard the tsunami’s approach well before people did. This diagram shows how an earthquake ripples water from it’s epicenter (where the earthquake originated) Sources Alexander, Tim. The Big Book of Tsunami Facts. New York: XYZ Books, 2010. “Causes of Tsunamis.” all-about-tsunamis.com Accessed 4/10/20 “Tsunami Facts”. standardencyclopedia.com. Accessed 4/10/20 “Tsunamis”. Naturaldisaster-web.com. Accessed 4/10/20.