On December 26, 2004, a powerful 9-magnitude earthquake struck beneath the Indian Ocean off the west coast of Sumatra. It was followed by a series of smaller quakes. The resulting tsunami caused massive damage across eleven countries in southern and Southeast Asia. Check the following sites for current news, and to learn more about the science of tsunamis.

Tsunami Resource Handout for Classroom or Homeschool: Just $2.00

CNN.com: Waves of Destruction5 stars

This special report from CNN.com has the latest news about the disaster and the rescue effort. It also has an excellent selection of educational features. There is a sidebar feature explaining earthquake magnitudes, an animation showing how a tsunami forms, and a chronology of previous tsunamis, going back to 1755. For a more personal take on the tragedy, read the eyewitness accounts.

FEMA for Kids: Tsunami4 stars

FEMA presents a colorful introduction to tsunami science and safety for elementary-age kids. "A tsunami (pronounced soo-nahm-ee) is a series of huge waves that happen after an undersea disturbance, such as an earthquake or volcano eruption. Tsunami is from the Japanese word for harbor wave. The waves travel in all directions from the area of disturbance, much like the ripples that happen after throwing a rock. The waves may travel in the open sea as fast as 450 miles per hour."

National Geographic News: Tsunami3 stars

From the National Geographic news desk, this one page article about the recent disaster explores tsunami causes and important warning signs. "Many people were killed by the Indian Ocean tsunami because they went down to the beach to view a retreating ocean exposing the sea floor. Apparently they were unaware that this phenomenon precedes a killer wave. Experts believe that a receding ocean may give people as much as five minutes' warning to evacuate the area."

The Physics of Tsunamis4 stars

Hosted at the Washington University, this tsunami site answers six frequently asked questions, from "What does 'tsunami' mean?" to "What happens when a tsunami encounters land?" Unfortunately there is no page-to-page navigation, so you'll need to return to the Table of Contents (by clicking on the Physics of Science button) to get to the next section.

USGS: Life of a Tsunami4 stars

This one-page illustrated article from the U.S. Geological Survey explains the four parts of a tsunami's life cycle: initiation, split, amplification and runup. Initiation is the event that starts it all, such as an earthquake. Split is when the initial tsunami divides in two: one tsunami heads out to sea, and the other moves toward land. As the local tsunami approaches shore, its amplitude (wave height) increases as its wavelength (distance between waves) decreases. And last, but not least, runup is the height of the tsunami wave as measured from the beach.

Tsunami Resource Handout for Classroom or Homeschool: Just $2.00

Honorable Mentions

The following links are either new discoveries or sites that didn't make it into my newspaper column because of space constraints. Enjoy!

American Red Cross: Tsunami

Savage Earth: Waves of Destruction

TIME: Tsunami Photo Essay

Tsunami Museum: FAQ

Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Tsunami." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 5 Jan. 2005. Web. 3 Sep. 2015. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/resources/tsunami/ >.

About This Page

By . Originally published January 5, 2005. Last modified January 5, 2005.

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