Disaster Strikes

by Sam Schultz and Mitchell Nabata



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Tsunamis Home Page

[ Introdruction for Tsunamis | How Tsunamis are formed | Indian Ocean Tusunami | Safety from Tsunamis | Facts about Tsunamis | Conclusion for Tsunamis ]

Introduction for Tsunamis:

A tsunami is a group of waves, one after another created by a disturbance that changes the water surface drastically. Tsunamis are like normal waves from the ocean, but much bigger. These waves come in a sequence, like a train. It is pronounced tsoo-nah-mee and in Japanese it means harbour wave.

How Tsunamis are Formed:

All tsunamis are created when there is a large disturbance in the surface of the water. These disturbances can consist of earthquakes, hurricanes, explosions, underwater landslides and even a meteor that lands straight into the water. These disturbances are simply a rise or fall in water level. Tsunamis can only be created in large bodies of water such as the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Generally, earthquakes make much larger tsunamis than any other cause. For a tsunami to be created, there has to be a very big or just very rapid disturbance in the body of water, otherwise it will only form a wave. Even though tsunamis can form in any large body of water, most are created in the Pacific Ocean. Along the lines of tsunamis being created by explosions, in theory, a nuclear testing could make a gigantic tsunami, if the testing happened anywhere near a body of water.

Indian Ocean Tsunami:

December 26. 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami hit Thailand, Indonesia, and a few other places along the Indonesian coast. The tsunami killed about 226 000 people. It was the worst tsunami in recorded history. Unfortunately there were no alert services around the Indian Ocean area to help people in the time of the tsunami. Many companies, groups and schools donated money to organizations like the Red Cross to help people recover from this terrible disaster.

This is a diagram of the Indian Ocean tsunami's wave


Safety from Tsunamis:

If you hear a tsunami warning in your home, make sure your family knows about it.

Tsunamis move much faster than anyone can run, so there is no point trying to outrun it, you must evacuate beforehand.

Never go near the ocean or any rivers leading to the ocean when there is a tsunami warning, and if you are at sea when a tsunami warning is in effect, do not return to shore. Make sure your boat is as far away from the tsunami as possible.

When evacuating, always have a survival kit. In this kit you could have: an extra supply of prescription medicines, non-perishable dietary foods, ice chest, a minimum of 2 quarts of water per person per day, pet food, candles/flashlight, matches, blankets/sleeping bags, extra cash, clothing, eyeglasses, personal hygiene items, special items for infants, elderly and disabled family members, quiet games or books/toys for children, important papers, driver’s license, special medical information, insurance policies, and property inventories, first aid kit and water purification kit. A tsunami is like a train of waves, after one wave hits, it will not be over, stay in a safe place until you are sure it is completely over.

Facts about Tsunamis:

In the past, many people referred to tsunamis as tidal waves, while scientists called them seismic waves. But these terms were misleading, so they came up with the Japanese word, tsunami.

Tsunami waves can travel at speeds up to about 805km per hour. Tsunamis have height ranging from 30-100 feet tall and can raise an extra 20 feet when it enters shallow water. Then their height might be increased even more by very powerful winds. At first people think that a tsunami is just a normal wave, but as it gets closer it looks much larger and by the time they see how big the tsunami really is, its too late. Once a tsunami has hit the coast it still travels hundreds of meters as its size dissipates. The area that the tsunami passes over will be flooded and will most likely be covered in objects swept on shore from the sea.

A rare occurrence of a tsunami is for it to be vertical in the water, it’s when a tsunami moves back and forth in the water, within a small area. This is called a seiche. These seiche waves can continue many days after a tsunami has occurred.



Conclusion for Tsunamis:

It’s almost impossible to stop a tsunami, but many things can be done to reduce the damage that they cause. One of those ways is by building huge walls on the coasts. These walls would most likely be built out of steel and would stop the tsunami if the wall is strong enough to withstand it. The problem with this wall is esthetics, It would not look very good and it would limit the room people have to swim. A much simpler solution is to have an alarm system that goes off every time there is a tsunami warning, if something like this was put up at every coastal city, it would reduce the number of deaths from tsunamis. This would have helped a lot in the Indian Ocean tsunami.