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Tsunami
The History of Tsunamis



The History of Tsunamis
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.23

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    nuclear, destruction, magnitude, directly, violent, tidal, warning, particularly, cannonballs, region, coastal, entire, destructive, meteor, evidence, action
     content words:    Pacific Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean, North America, South America, In May, In March, British Columbia, Pacific Northwest, In August


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The History of Tsunamis
By Jane Runyon
  

1     The word tsunami comes from the Japanese language. In that language the word means harbor wave. Long ago, Japanese fishermen created the word tsunami. They would return from the sea to find that their villages had been destroyed by large waves. They had not been aware of waves large enough to wash away a village while at sea. The waves had traveled through the sea until they reached a point near the land and the water became shallower. The shallow water had caused the wave to be pushed to the surface. In the open water of the ocean, this type of wave could not be detected.
 
2     These destructive waves are sometimes mistakenly called tidal waves. As the waves approach the land without warning, they can look like a particularly violent tide rushing to the shore. But these waves really have nothing to do with the tide. Scientists don't like to hear people call tsunamis "tidal waves" because of this wrong idea.
 
3     The "normal" waves that you can see crashing onto the shore are caused by the action of wind on the ocean. Tsunamis are many times caused by an earthquake. Earthquakes are caused when pieces of the earth's crust shift. Energy released by the earthquake causes the water in the ocean to be displaced or moved. You can see this kind of action for yourself. If you bring your hands quickly together underwater in a pool or bathtub, you will see the water above your hands start to form a wave. It has been displaced. The same thing will happen if someone cannonballs into a pool of water. The water will splash out over the sides of the pool. It has been displaced. Tsunamis can also be caused by landslides where large chunks of land suddenly slide into the sea. A meteor landing in the ocean can cause tsunamis, too.

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