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Forecasting Tsunamis

On December 26, 2004, a massive earthquake occurred under the sea off the coast of Sumatra Island, Indonesia. The magnitude of the earthquake was 9.0 on the Richter scale, making it the third biggest earthquake in the past 100 years. Shortly after the quake, the shores of surrounding countries were hit by a big tsunami, which was over 10 meters high in some places. The earthquake and tsunami took the lives of more than 280,000 people, and they destroyed many buildings and roads.

Did you know that tsunami is a Japanese word? The tsu of tsunami means "harbor," and nami means "wave." So tsunami refers to a large wave that strikes places like harbors. Though the word has come into worldwide use only recently, a tsunami can happen almost anywhere in the world. Japan has been hit by many tsunamis through the ages, and that is why Japanese has a special word for these waves.

Sumatra Island