Tsunamis are one of the most powerful and deadliest powers of nature. They result in catastrophic damage and loss of life.

Imagine a wave the size of One World Trade Center crashing towards you. That’s roughly the size of the largest tsunami in recent history. Prehistoric tsunamis were even more insane.

Watch the short video by Audible to learn about Tsunamis and enjoy the following facts

17 Interesting Tsunami Facts

  1. A tsunami is usually caused by an earthquake but can also be caused by a volcanic eruption, landslide, rapid changes in atmospheric pressure, or a meteorite
  2. A tsunami is not just one big wave, but a series of waves called a “wave train.” The time period between waves is called the “wave period” and can be between a few minutes and two hours. The first wave is usually not the strongest, and later waves, such as the fifth or sixth, may be significantly larger
  3. In the deepest part of the ocean, tsunami waves are often only 1 to 3 feet tall. Sailors may not even realize that tsunami waves are passing beneath them.
  4. The Indonesia 9.0 earthquake in 2004 released more energy than all the earthquakes on the planet in the last 25 years combined. A segment of seafloor the size of the state of California moved upward and seaward by more than 30 feet, displacing huge amounts of water.
  5. The states in the U.S. at greatest risk for tsunamis are Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California
  6. One of the largest earthquakes in history occurred over 100 miles off the coast of Chile on May 22, 1960. Just 15 minutes after the 9.5 quake, 80-foot waves struck the coast. Fifteen hours later, tsunami waves struck Hawaii and, finally, 22 hours after the earthquake, the tsunami struck Japan—10,000 miles from where the earthquake took place
  7. While waves generated by wind may travel anywhere from around 2 to 60 miles (3.2 to 97 km) per hour, tsunami waves can travel at speeds of 600 miles (970 km) per hour, the speed of a jet plane
  8. The farthest distance inland (horizontally) reached by tsunami waters is referred to as the area of inundation. The highest point (vertically) that this water reaches is called the run-up
  9. Palm trees with their long, bare trunks are well adapted to life on the shore and often survive tsunamis intact
  10. Reports show that those who use their cars to escape tsunamis often get stuck in traffic jams or encounter other obstacles and are, therefore, more likely to be swept away. Reports show that the best way to escape is on foot, climbing up any steep slopes nearby as quickly as possible
  11. If caught by a tsunami wave, it is better not to swim, but rather to grab a floating object and allow the current to carry you.
  12. Tsunamis can poison fresh-water surface and groundwater systems as well as soil by leaving large amounts of salt behind. Consequently, thousands of people can die of starvation and disease long after the tsunami is gone.
  13. Tsunami waves do not look like normal waves because they do not break and curl as normal waves do. They come as rapid floods of water or in the form of a bore, which is a large, steep wave that looks like a wall of water
  14. Tsunamis were sometimes called tidal waves, but this is misleading because tsunamis have nothing to do with tides
  15. The plural form of the term can be either “tsunami” or “tsunamis
  16. Because of its long history of devastating tsunamis, Japan had the most advanced tsunami warning system in the world prior to the 2011 tsunami, which consisted of more than 1,500 seismometers and more than 500 water-level gauges. Japan’s tsunami warning system costs $20 million a year to run.
  17. Tsunamis retain their energy, meaning they can travel across entire oceans with limited energy loss. A tsunami that travels thousands of miles across the ocean is called a transoceanic tsunami or teletsunami. A tsunami that only reaches the coast near the point of its origin is a local tsunami.

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