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Case Study


Tsunamis are large, rapidly moving ocean waves triggered by a major disturbance of the ocean floor, caused by earthquakes, submarine landslide or volcanic eruptions. Tsunami are shallow water waves because they have wavelengths of many miles. In the open ocean, tsunami waves travel at speeds of 300-600 miles per hour, but their wave heights are usually only a few inches. As they approach shallower water near a coast their wave heights may increase to tens or hundreds feet.

Please read the following to explore tsunami, their causes, their effects and examples of large tsunami. You will be responsible for the information you read from these sources.

The Tsunami Story – Please read this page on tsunami put out by NOAA. Focus on how tsunami are generated and how their waves travel through the ocean. You may skip the parts on warnings, forcasts and impact reduction.

2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami - Learn about one of the largest tsunami event in recorded history, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Please read through all pages of this exploration – the last section has 5 pages.

Tsunami Ready – Read this article from NOAA magazine to learn about warning systems for tsunami. Focus on the challenges in informing, educating and warning the general population of tsunami hazards.

To aid in your understanding of tsunami, please view the animation below to learn how earthquake-generated tsunami form and move. Click on the small "Play" arrow in the lower left of the animation to start.


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