By Macy Goodson

What is a Tsunami? Why Should We Care?

A tsunami is a massive wave of ocean water that is caused by tectonic activity such as an earthquake or volcano. The magnitude of tsunamis is measured in meters for the height and kilometers for the length. Tsunami waves normally start out in the middle of the ocean, and as it works it's way inland, it gains speed and height. Tsunamis can cause lots and lots of damage to the region and societies that it hits. The areas that are vulnerable to affected by tsunamis are those that are on a coastline and are near where tectonic plates meet. The most common area is in the Pacific Ocean and a place called the Ring of Fire. The ring of Fire got its name from the impressive amount of volcanoes and tectonic activity on the land surrounding both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

Notable Tsunamis in History

One of the worst tsunamis to hit on Earth occurred in Sumatra, Indonesia on December 26, 2004. A 9.1 magnitude earthquake has previously hit nearby and brought on many aftershocks, and a 1300 km long, 50 m tsunami.

Another major tsunami hit North Pacific Coast, Japan on March 11, 2011. A 9.0 magnitude earthquake had just hit the area earlier that day. The tsunami was travelling at 800 km per hour, and was at a height of 10 m waves.

Ways to Stay Safe in the Event of Tsunamis

When you are in coastal areas that may be prone to tsunamis, there is not much you can do to prevent the natural disaster from happening. But you can, have a plan to escape wherever you are, and to travel to a high place, where the water will not hit. Another way to stay safe, is to know the warning signs of a tsunami coming on. Do not go to places such as the beach after a earth quakes hits, as that is when the tsunami will occur.