What is a Tsunami?

Put simply, a tsunami is a long, long wave that can have massively destructive results. Learn about tsunamis with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration! A tsunami is a series of extremely long waves caused by a large and sudden displacement of the ocean, usually the result of an earthquake below or near the ocean floor. This force creates waves that radiate outward in all directions away from their source, sometimes crossing entire ocean basins. Unlike wind-driven waves, which only travel through the topmost layer of the ocean, tsunamis move through the entire water column, from the ocean floor to the ocean surface.

What Causes a Tsunami?

In this video from Temple’s College of Science and Technology, Jared teaches us how the movement of plates under the ocean causes big waves on its surface, also known as a tsunami. The College of Science and Technology offers a wonderful series of FunScienceDemos. If you are a teacher in need of science readings, writing prompts and more, they also offer a comprehensive companion site.

How Tsunamis Work

The immense swell of a tsunami can grow up to 100 feet, hitting speeds over 500 mph - a treacherous combination for anyone or anything in its path. Alex Gendler details the causes of these towering terrors and explains how scientists are seeking to reduce their destruction in the future. Video from TED-Ed.

How To Survive a Tsunami, According to Science

You’re on a beach. Not a worry in the world. Sand trickling between your toes, the sound of waves — wait, what? Where’d all the water go? Did you see it going out? Now what? This video from How to Survive explores how to survive a tsunami!

Tsunamis: Facing a Global Threat

It's one of the deadliest natural phenomena on the planet. Tsunamis are so sudden and powerful that in a matter of a few hours they can destroy everything and disappear. Where a tsunami has struck once, another one will strike again. It's a matter of time. This video from the Documentary Channel explores the threat of tsunamis globally. Video recommended by the Department of Earth and Environmental Science in Temple's College of Science and Technology and used as a teaching tool in the class Disasters: Geology vs. Hollywood.

Tsunami Science and Safety

a tsunami hitting land

Ocean Today, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), offers a series of educational videos about tsunami science and safety for educators. Know the potential warning signs of an incoming tsunami. Learn about the science of these dangerous waves to help you and your community stay safe.

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