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Tsunami summary

James Goff and Walter Dudley

The World's Greatest Waves

4.5 (30 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

Tsunami by James Goff and Walter Dudley is a comprehensive guide to understanding the science, history and impact of tsunamis. It explains what causes them and what measures can be taken to reduce the risk of future devastation.

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    Tsunami
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    Most tsunamis occur in the ocean and are triggered by large earthquakes.

    When discussing tsunamis, the best place to start is actually with another natural disaster – earthquakes. Around 80 percent of tsunamis are triggered by earthquakes in some shape or form. More specifically, they’re caused by fault line ruptures that result in vertical slips large enough to disturb the ocean water above.

    There are enough stories about these earth-shaking events to fill thousands of books, so in this section, we’re going to focus on two of the most historically significant.

    First, is the 1946 earthquake and tsunami that began in the Aleutian Trench in Alaska. This event was one of a special group of earthquakes called tsunami earthquakes, meaning that the resulting tsunami was much larger than the quake itself.

    A prime example of the extreme damage caused by this tsunami is the story of the Scotch Cap lighthouse, which perched 100 feet up a cliff in Alaska, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. At 3:30 a.m. on April 1, 1946, the five US Coast Guardsmen stationed at the lighthouse felt the rumbles of an earthquake. And while the shaking only lasted for a few moments, the real danger lay in what was to come.

    Just 48 minutes later, while in communication with the US Naval Air Station at Dutch Harbor, one of the men shouted, “A wave. Oh no!” Shortly afterward, the line went dead.

    After the tsunami was over, crews went out to assess the damage. In the dark, they could just make out the ruins of the lighthouse. There was no trace of the five men that had been stationed there.

    The giant waves of this tsunami went on to wreak havoc on the Hawaiian Islands, tear through French Polynesia, and make it all the way to the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula! The immense destruction caused by this disaster soon spurred the creation of a Pacific Tsunami Warning System in 1948.

    Another particularly devastating tsunami happened on May 22, 1960, when a giant magnitude 9.5 earthquake began off the coast of Southern Chile. To this day, this earthquake remains the largest ever instrumentally recorded.

    Following the quake, a tsunami was generated with waves well over 50 feet high that traveled not only to the coasts of Chile and Japan, but also far across the Pacific Region – to Hawaii, New Zealand, California, and the Philippine Islands. In Chile alone, two million people were left homeless and thousands lost their lives.

    These tsunamis are historically significant for two reasons. First, they show just how widespread the devastation from these events can be. And, second, they were both extensively studied by scientists, leading to a greater understanding of tsunamis and improvements to warning systems.

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    What is Tsunami about?

    Tsunami (2021) uses a combination of ancient legends, scientific research, and survivor stories to take readers on an in-depth learning journey about some of the most significant tsunamis that have occurred throughout history. Through detailed descriptions of these incredible natural disasters, it teaches us that the lessons we learn from the past can help us live a safer future.

    Tsunami Review

    Tsunami (2010) is an insightful exploration of the science behind tsunamis and the devastating impact they have on coastal communities. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a detailed account of how tsunamis form, providing readers with a comprehensive understanding of this natural phenomenon.
    • Through compelling case studies and firsthand testimonials, the book showcases the incredible strength and resilience of those affected by tsunamis.
    • With its accessible language and engaging narrative, the book effectively communicates complex scientific concepts, ensuring that readers never find it boring.

    Who should read Tsunami?

    • Anyone interested in learning about tsunamis
    • History buffs
    • Fans of natural disaster stories

    About the Author

    James Goff is an honorary professor of tsunami research at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia and former director of the Australia-Pacific Tsunami Research Centre at UNSW. He’s written and coedited over 250 peer-reviewed publications and has appeared in numerous documentaries.

    Walter Dudley is a professor emeritus of marine geology and oceanography at the University of Hawaii, Hilo. He’s published six books about tsunamis, written multiple peer-reviewed journals, and has appeared in over 30 documentaries for National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Disney, and many others.

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    Tsunami FAQs 

    What is the main message of Tsunami?

    The main message of Tsunami is to understand and prepare for the threat of tsunamis to mitigate their devastating impact.

    How long does it take to read Tsunami?

    The reading time for Tsunami varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Tsunami a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Tsunami is a valuable read for anyone wanting to learn more about tsunamis. It provides crucial insights and actionable advice on how to stay safe.

    Who is the author of Tsunami?

    The authors of Tsunami are James Goff and Walter Dudley.

    What to read after Tsunami?

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