The 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia has renewed interest in this rare and mysterious natural disaster. Discover the how and why of these rare natural disasters. Included: Links to computer models of wave patterns and coastal damage, interactive video of the stages of tsunamis, lesson plans, and much more!
On December 29, 2004, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake deep beneath the Indian Ocean triggered massive tsunamis that are estimated to have killed nearly 200,000 people in more than 10 countries.
What are tsunamis? What causes them? Can scientists predict and track them? Can we avoid them? Learn about the science of tsunamis and their impact on society at these sites for middle- and high-school students.
Waves of Destruction: Tsunamis
This PBS site, appropriate for students in grades 6-12, describes the science behind tsunamis in easy-to-understand language. The Tsunami Attack Animation shows how a tsunami grows, while a video of a survivor of a 1946 tsunami in Hawaii offers a unique look at the frightening phenomena. On the Catching Tsunamis in the Act page, students can learn how sensors detect tsunamis and how to get out of the path of a tsunami. Linked page also detail several tsunamis throughout history.
The Physics of Tsunamis
The science of tsunamis is explained clearly and succinctly in terms suitable for middle and high school students. Computer models demonstrate tsunamis' wave patterns and how they affect coastal structures to help students visualize the impact of the natural disasters.
Tsunamis and Earthquakes
This site maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey contains a number of computer models of hypothetical tsunamis on the West Coast of the United States. Be sure to check out the Life of a Tsunami page for a concise explanation of tsunamis as well as illustrations of the stages of a tsunami.
Although a number of pages linked to this CNN coverage of the December 29, 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean contain stories and photographs too graphic for younger students, many pages provide exhaustive details appropriate for high school students. The All About Tsunami interactive tool, for example, provides an overview of the phenomena as well as several video simulations. Other helpful links include Map of region; Tsunami, quake facts; and Tsunami alert system pages.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tsunamis
NOAA's (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) International Tsunami Information Center provides this page of frequently asked questions about tsunamis. Many of the questions are relevant for students who have researched other tsunami-related links. Use the Recent Data link on the left side of the page to find data -- such as tsunami height and sea level -- that students can use in a spreadsheet or other analysis activity. A number of printable brochures, including the Great Waves brochure linked on the left side of the page -- also are available. Some information also is provided in French and Spanish.
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Article by Linda Starr
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