Tsunami facts: check out the mighty wave!

Tsunami facts

A tsunami (soo-NAH-mee) is one of the world's most powerful and destructive natural forces.

 

They can speed across the ocean as fast as a jet plane, swallow up islands and wipe out villages. But what causes tsuamis...? Join National Geographic Kids and dive into our tsunami facts to find out!


 

Tsunami facts

 

What causes a tsunami?


Tsunami facts

Meaning 'great harbour wave' in Japanese, tsunamis are sometimes called 'tidal waves' but their strength has nothing to do with the tides. About four out of five tsunamis happen within the Ring Of Fire, a zone in the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions frequently take place.


Giant slabs of the Earth's crust, called tectonic plates, grind together. Sometimes, though, the plates get stuck, the pressure builds up and they suddenly slam into a new position. This causes an earthquake. If an earthquake lifts or drops part of the ocean floor, the water above rises and starts spreading across the ocean, causing a tsunami. Underwater landslides or volcanic eruptions can also displace water (cause water to spread across the ocean) and may lead to a tsunami.



How big is a tsunami?


Tsunami facts

Out in the open ocean, tsunami waves are only about one-metre high because the water is deep. However, as the water becomes shallow, the waves slow down and begin to grow. They can rise 35m or higher – that's the same as a 10-floor block of flats! However, the scariest thing about a tsunami is its wavelength, as this determines how far inland it can travel. Whereas a large wave caused by a storm might have a wavelength of up to 150m, a tsunami could reach up to a fearsome 1,000km! 



How fast is a tsunami?


Tsunami facts

A normal wind wave travels at about 90kmh, but a tsunami can race across the ocean at an incredible 970kmh! Sometimes, before a tsunami hits, there is a huge vacuum effect, sucking water from harbours and beaches. People can see the ocean floor littered with flopping fish and other sea animals. Then a wave blasts onto the shore minutes later, then another and another for two hours or more. There may also be up to one hour between each wave.


Tsunami facts


Can you predict when a tsunami is coming?


To save lives, scientists established the Pacific Tsunami Warning System, based in Hawaii, in the USA. Its network of detectors can track quakes that may cause a tsunami. These waves can race from one side of the Pacific Ocean to the other in less than a day, so people need to be warned in time to head for higher ground!


Tsunami facts

 

What do you think of these tsunami facts? Let us know by leaving a comment, below!


Your Comments

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That's awesome! Although I wouldn't want that to happen to us though. I may find that really scary! About tsunamis, I'm pretty sure there has been a tsunami quite recently in Japan. Maybe you could write about that?
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larissa
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Pop
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amelyac
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ThankYou
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kaicooprg
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bob
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lionlover
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purple
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Mlg_man
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Majoorann
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Reg
Great
You
Absolutely terrible I learnt nothing
Trey
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i find this very helpful x
#21
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1234567
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DS3
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Meeeeeee
Thanks, this was very useful. :)
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Coolish
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awesome
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not really informational.....
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happy
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Macey-Sean
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Jonathan118
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Griffey
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I used this for my science poster
dumancela
THANK YOU SO MUCH NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SO MUCH
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Epic
LaraPotter
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Anya_The_Animal
Wow
BestPlayer999
Awesome
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croline
so cool
henri
thank you.
Jaiden246
That would be scary but awesome. I probably would die.
elea
this helped me a lot to do my tsunami homework for y6 reading journal work
harvs9
thank you! very intresting!
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this helped me out a lot thanks!
happy123
cool
Zachary
Wow
superboy
this is a super cool website
me1
cool
Emi- Jess 10
I was ill one day,but i still found myself up on the computer googling facts about Tsunamis for my group at school. Thanks alot National Geographic !!!!!!
Noah111111111
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doggy
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My names Jeff
Cool
Tornadoz
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Po
Wow!
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Josh
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That's awsome
oldmanisc00l
Such an awesome website. I love facts that tell you about the Natural World.
interestgirl
amazing
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I like this website!!!!!!!
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ExpertGamer
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jahad
great!
chupachups808
cool
GossipGirl299
THAT WAS SO BIG
Super cute
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cooldude47
What pasific month does tsunamis happen in?
Caery
so cool. really helpful
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will123456789
im learing :(
Nat
epic!
Nat
epic
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FYI
GREAT WEBSITE :)
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lolol
cool! :)
lolol
awesome!
ellsbells
these are really good facts!! thank you this really helped me to understand some things about tsunamis!
cooldude47
Totally radical dude
hi1
nice i am doin a unit about it.
Grace_is_awesome
Wow that's really good to know for school!
tinka
thank you for the facts i now know about tsunamis xxx
bob101101101101
wow i didn't know that
Line Ranger
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serina
cool
bubba
ahhhhhhh run a tsunami
yomm
also the topography of the oceans floor changes the size of the seismic sea wave!!!!!
researcher
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bubba
Ahhhhhh run a tsunami
Golden_oreo
Seriously this info is SO helpful for school!!!
Keljn
Wow
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asomme
oliverwilson
tsuami info is great
rayson
well tsunimas are sick but they can millions
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this is realy shoking
Golden_oreo
OMG! This is amazing info! But still, that would be something really scary to be in!!!
bubba
Cool
bubba
run
Cookie Luv ! :D
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AKWARD
OMG ITS SO COOL BUT SCARY
eunniel
run everybody
eunniel
i like it
eunniel
men what will happened to us
200
AWSOME
hono
i did not know
Kool kid no 1
You helped me with homework thanks
Kool kid no 1
I feel sorry for them
meepmeep
great info for homework! thanks
amy44
Cool!
Callan
helped loads thx
winner
soooooooo cool
ready
i like it
hasad
cool
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yay
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:-)
fias
scary
#Natasha:)
Tsunamis are terrible!
Detty
that some scary stuff
waffles
very good info i love it i could read it all day every day
Amy 543
Amazing wonderful full of information
stock
Thank you for this it helped a lot.
dude
i hate tsunami's, they are really bad!!!!!!!!!!!
Duke
creepy really creepy
miriama
that is the scariest thing i have seen
SurplusOak06270
hi that was vary interesting
hjkhhd
oh no
John
Helped
Helps with HW a lot!â
I HATE TSUNAMIESSSSSSSSZSSSSSAAA
rere
Very helpful
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hi that was awsome
81323pedro
Great Info helped me.ð
mason
this site was like totes peanut brittle and i was like all up in dem i learned lots bout tsunamis
Mason
I loved this cite please go to it
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It is very helpful.
scooter
thanks for the help
at
epic
ak47
awesome this is very helpful .
Akshitha
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yolo
Now I'm scared a tsunami will occur on the island that I live on.
BOBBERT
OMG SO INTERESITNG
Jeff
k den
pugs
wow so powerful
pugs
Tsunamis are powerful
Jose-123
so helpful for homework and our project with biological
Lauren
really helpful for homework!
jdfslka
very good
stampy337
wow I'm amazed and scared
stampy337
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stampy337
scary!
stampy337
Thanks for the knowledge :)
Patryk
NOW i did not now that never
SlowlyPokingYou
Wow! This will really help me with my writing assignment! Cool!
spongebobsquarepants
that seems kinda sillyð
Khy
Cooool
Sup
Scary
Lehua
Wow things in here are crazy cool and I learned so much!
Lehua
Wow some things in here I do not know about in here
flippinawesometomakeadogflip
awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Awesomenewdiscovery
I love all the pictures and stuff and things.
liamp21413
I'm cranky
liamp21413
awesome
Bob
cool
FaithL
wow
Amelia
amazing how a tsunami is formed!!!
polly
Wow i didnt no
Emma
COOL! i love this website
Walid
I can't belive that a tsunami can do that with a boat
lol
full of useful info
Steve
This information helped me with my project.
ww
wow! my homework is over!
clawdude
AWESOME
claws
awsome
sofia
This really helped me out with my homework!
Funky_Monkey321
OH MY WORD!!!!!!!
Funky_Monkey321
OH MY WORD!!!!!!!
Funky_Monkey321
OH MY WORD!!!!!!
unknown
this was interesting and really good info
Person
tsunamis r scary
jahson
awsome
unknown-person
hmm this is kind of good
unknown-person
hmm this is kind of good
jahson
this is cool
nia
thank you National Geographic I've learned much more
lucky777
I love it!!!!!!!!!!!! I wanna know moooorrrrrreeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ruby
NG is a wonderful website to look at for homework.I would recommend
muj
helping stuff
beauty155
this really helped me with my geog presentation thanks NG!!
kitty
i love this
CuteRecruit
LOVES IT!!!!!
Bolop123
I survived a tsunami!
Bolop123
I was evacuated from a tsunami!
Emily
Thats amazing but looks very scary
zoom51
Amazing
kyra kurz123
omg i luv this stuff how did tsunamies happen when or how where they formed
jack
OMG i am going to have nightmares LOL!
jack
this is great thank you national grog
TurtlePower
Thanks, I really learned a lot from this!
Dantdm
Awsome
Dantdm
Cool
m
WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
jackie
cool
sabirenaden
this is really good
keelin
I moved from Canada a few months ago and we get tsunamis there!!!!
Aquamarine
This post really helped for my homework project! Thanks!
Ewan
Who's seen the film'The Impossible' because that shows a tsunami and also gives you an idea of what it was like for those people who got caught in the wave
Ali pli
Big Wave!!!
Maisie
Hi again everyone. I'm taking care of some birds today. That means feeding them and giving them water. Does anyone else do this?
Maisie
I feel so sorry for the towns who get stuck in tsunamis. So I'm quite glad to live in England! What about tornados? The horrible brown dirty tornado could rip up a town!
Cizzy
WAVE!!!
Shanzie
How sad
Abdul
How many houses is destroyed in tsunami
Chloe
Don't know what would if it happened to me
Josh_and_Ross12
How many floods have there been and how many people died from it
palvi
if this happened right now you wouldn't know what could happen

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Structure of the Earth!

 

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The South Pole is colder than the North Pole.

What's YOUR favourite reptile?

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