Tsunamis

Where can I find information about tsunamis?

Image: DSCN1217 by Chani Goering on Flickr

Entry last updated: 11/03/19

Introduction

Tsunamis are destructive surges of water or waves in a sea, or large lake. They are caused by a significant movement on the sea bed, from an earthquake, a volcanic eruption, or a landslide.

Famous tsunamis

There have been a large number of significant tsunamis in history. The most destructive have been:

  • Indian Ocean earthquake - creating huge damage across all countries bordering the Indian Ocean and particularly Sumatra, Indonesia on 26 December 2004
  • North Pacific Coast, Japan - 11 March 2011
  • Lisbon, Portugal - 1 November 1755
  • Krakatau, Indonesia - 27 August 1883
  • Enshunada Sea, Japan - 20 September 1498
  • Nankaido, Japan - 28 October 1707
  • Sanriku, Japan - 15 June 1896
  • Northern Chile - 13 August 1868

There have also been major Tsunamis in New Zealand. These include:

  • 1855 - following the Wairarapa earthquake
  • 1868 - following an earthquake on the Peru-Chile border
  • 2016 - Kaikoura Tsunami following the Kaikoura earthquake.

Te Ara: the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable. This site has information about historic New Zealand Tsunamis as well as others.

  • Type the keyword 'Tsunami' into the search bar at the top of the page.
  • Select the entry called Tsunamis
  • The entry discusses tsunamis in history, rather than the causes of a tsunami, and covers most of the tsunamis listed above.
Tips: We like sites that are from government or other reputable organisations, because we can trust the information. You can sometimes tell these sites by their web address – they might have .gov or .edu in their address – or by looking at their About us or Contact pages.

What are tsunamis?

Tsunamis are series of huge waves in the sea or large lake. They can be extremely destructive, especially when they hit populated areas of land. The following websites have good information about what tsunamis are.

National Geographic Education

This is a useful website with quality information for education about the earth and its people. It includes a good resource called Tsunamis 101 with a short video about tsunamis and how they are formed.

  1. Type the keyword 'Tsunami' into the search bar at the top of the page
  2. You will get a list of results. Tsunami 101 is a good starting point.
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, e g [tsunami]. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

GNS Science

GNS Science is an excellent website which covers information on a range of topic including tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanoes.

  1. Type the keyword 'Tsunami' into the search bar at the top of the page.
  2. Select the entry called Tsunami.
  3. This entry tells you what a Tsunami is and links to more information about causes, New Zealand Tsunamis, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, and what to do in a Tsunami.
Tips: We like sites that are from government or other reputable organisations, because we can trust the information. You can sometimes tell these sites by their web address – they might have .gov or .edu in their address – or by looking at their About us or Contact pages .

How do tsunamis work?

Tsunamis are caused by a large movement, usually on an ocean or sea bed. The movement generates a wave, or series of waves. The following websites provide more detailed information about how a tsunami works.

Britannica School

This is one of the EPIC resources. EPIC is a collection of reliable databases that have some really good information on all sorts of topics including tsunamis.

  1. Choose the primary level (you can alwayschange the level later, if you need to).
  2. Type the keyword 'tsunami' into the search bar.
  3. Select the page called 'tsunami (giant sea wave)'
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

HowStuffWorks

HowStuffWorks is a really good website for finding out how all sorts of things work. Often the articles we find will go over multiple pages, so we need to click through them to find more info. This site is particularly good for explaining the causes of a tsunami.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Effects

Tsunamis generally arrive without warning and can result in extreme devastation and a large number of deaths. They can destroy buildings and strip away the coastline, pulling everything in their path out to sea. The following website has information about the effects of a tsunami.

Global issues in context

This is one of the EPIC resources. EPIC is a collection of reliable databases that have some really good information on all sorts of topics including tsunamis. This database has some excellent information about the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami and its effects in Japan - some of the content is difficult but there are some useful facts.

  1. Login using your school password (or ask a librarian on AnyQuestions).
  2. Choose the primary level (you can always change the level later, if you need to).
  3. Type the keyword 'Tsunami' into the search bar.
  4. Select the topic overview in the 'Reference section' which is called '2011 Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.'

BBC Bitesize

This is a website from the BBC (official broadcasting channel in the UK) to support the UK Curriculum. Some of the elements are no longer being updated, but contain some excellent material. This has good video clips and images and has a useful case study of the massive 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

  1. Type the word 'tsunami' into the search bar.
  2. Have a look at the video clip of the of the Indian Ocean Tsunami: The causes and effects of the 2004 Asian Tsunami.
  3. You may also be interested in the other results from the list, which include more on causes and also information about Sri Lanka in the 2004 Tsunami.

Books

There are some good books written about tsunamis and their impacts on people - check your local public or school library to see what they have.

Some recommended titles are:

SCIS no: 1881619

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