HOT TOPIC: Tsunamis
Volume 1, Issue 16 - January 9, 2005

"Happy New Year! As you know, over the holidays there a natural disaster occurred in south Asia to which the world is still reacting. The December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake occurred at 7:58 AM local time, spawning tsunamis that were among the deadliest natural phenomenon in modern history. At a rating of 9.0 on the Richter scale, it was the largest earthquake since the 9.2 Good Friday Earthquake off the coast of Alaska in forty years ago. It began beneath the Indian Ocean off the western coast of Sumatra, with tsunamis hitting Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and other coastal nations with waves of up to 50 feet high (five stories). The quake was so powerful that waves even reached Somalia on the east coast of Africa, some 2,800 miles west of the earthquake’s epicenter.

At least 166,000 people are known to be dead as a result of the tsunamis, with the death count continuing to rise. Relief agencies warn of the possibility of more deaths to come as a result of disease and starvation. The world has responded, sending money, supplies and relief workers to south Asia to help relive the large scale human suffering now taking place there. Whether you want to empower your students to participate in that relief, or just plug into their awareness of the significance of this major event in human history, there are some excellent resources online to take advantage of this powerful story across the curriculum.

In Japanese tsunami means “harbor wave.” Mistakenly called tidal waves, tsunamis actually have nothing to do with tides. They are actually a series of huge waves that are prompted by an undersea event like an earthquake or volcano. These waves travel in all directions from the origination point of the underwater disturbance. They can travel in the open sea as fast as hour-hundred fifty miles per hour, and as they approach shallow coastal waters they get higher and higher until they break on the shoreline. Tsunamis have been known to be as tall as one-hundred feet in height.

In addition to pertinent academic studies, this is a great opportunity for your class to get involved in sending aid directly to the agencies who can help the people of south Asia. Please see for credible information on organizations working to provide relief to the nations ravaged by this disaster. I hope the links offered below will also be helpful to you in the classroom. Here’s your first Digital Dozen of 2005! ….."


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