The word tsunami (pronounced soo-NAH-mee) is Japanese, and it means ‘harbour wave’.

Asian Tsunami in Sumatra, Indonesia - 26 December 2004

On 26th December 2004 a devastating tsunami hit Indonesia and affected several countries.  The tsunami was caused by an underwater earthquake which measured 9.15 on the Richter scale.  Amongst the affected countries was Somalia in Africa which is almost 3000 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake.

The initial tsunami waves took a little over 2 hours to reach the teardrop-shaped island of Sri Lanka.  Additional waves continued to arrive for many hours afterward. 

NASA's Terra satellite passed overhead capturing this image of deep sea tsunami waves about 30-40 kilometers from Sri Lanka's southwestern coast.  The image covers an area of 129 miles x 128 miles.  (Image courtesy of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA-JPL)

Read More: Tsunami Facts

Related Resources