asEnglish Documentary on Tsunamis with Transcript and illustrated flashcards to improve your reading and listening comprehension and enrich your academic vocabulary
Source of documentary: National Geographic YouTube Channel
Table of Contents
What are tsunamis like?
A tragic scene: entire cities flooded, entire towns inundated, an unending stream of floating debris, buildings, cars, people swept away in an unstoppable wave. It’s a brutal reminder. Tsunamis are dangerous and unpredictable. But what causes these giant waves and what can be done to minimize their impact?
How do tsunamis originate?
Tsunamis can strike with little warning because they’re usually triggered by a sudden displacement of ocean water like volcanic eruptions, landslides, meteorites or the most common culprit, earthquakes. In the deep ocean, a typical tsunami wave is barely noticeable and poses little threat, but the waves can spread out thousands of miles rolling across the ocean at speeds up to 600 miles per hour. As the rolling water reaches the shoreline, the waves friction against the shallower floor, slows it down, and raises its height by the time it reaches the shore. The wave can be as tall as 100 feet.
Tsunamis are devastating
Unlike ordinary waves, a tsunami wave doesn’t crest or break. Instead, it moves forward like a solid wall of water crashes over the coastline, obliterating almost everything in its path. And just when you think the danger is over, it recedes, dragging everything back to the ocean. Tsunamis have multiple waves, which can continue to hit the shore for several hours causing even more destruction.
Where do tsunamis generally strike?
The word, tsunami, originates from Japan, a country that sits on a geographic location that makes it an easy target for these natural disasters. In 2011, it was struck by a tsunami that claimed nearly 16,000 lives.
But the deadliest tsunami in history is believed to be the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004. The US Geological Survey estimated that tsunami released the energy equivalent to 23,000 Hiroshima type atomic bombs. An earthquake created an estimated 600-mile rupture on the ocean floor. This caused the tsunami to form and then travel at the speed of a jetliner reaching over 11 countries traveling over 3,000 miles killing more than 220,000 people.
Tsunami Warning Centers
Because they can strike so quickly with such deadly force, tsunami warning centers around the globe are on constant alert, monitoring underwater earthquakes large enough to trigger massive waves. Their ultimate goal is to alert vulnerable coastlines and give residents time to seek higher ground before a tsunami hits.