Cutting Edge > Hazards > Pedagogy > Teaching about the 2004 Tsunami > Community Outreach

Community Outreach Activities

Faculty and Educators in the Geosciences were also called on to communicate important information about the Tsunami to the public at large in addition to their students. Here are some approaches to public outreach that geoscience professionals took in response.

Community Forums

I'll be giving a free hour-long presentation on tsunamis and earthquakes to a general audience at the central branch of the Rochester, New York Public Library. The presentation is one in a noontime series on general interest topics sponsored by the Friends of the library. I'll be using a Powerpoint slide show for which I'll rely in part on information and images from your website, so thanks!
Tom Wells

I gave a talk at a large, local retirement community as part of their Cultural Encounters series. The talk was titled: "The greatest tsunami disasters through time." It focused on not only the Dec. 26 tsunami but also the 1947 Aleutian tsunami, 1960 Chilean tsunami, and 1996 Peruvian tsunami. There was a lengthy discussion session following the 45-minute talk.
he talk went very well. After hearing the tsunami talk, it seemed that the group wanted to hear more about earthquakes and how/where earthquakes are generated (I told them I'd come back in 2006 to talk about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake!).

Laura Guertin, Penn State Delaware County

Local and National Media

Have written an op-ed piece for Florida Today newspaper; given a dozen press interviews; half-dozen TV and radio interviews; university lecture (1/12/05); will give the Plenary Lecture at the annual meeting of the Florida Academy of Sciences in March.
Senator Joe Liberman sponsored a bill for 40-50 DART buoys and $30,000,000 in initial funding for a Global Tsuanmi Warning System (of course the fact that I wrote to him on October 22, 2003 and sent him a copy of my Sea Technology Magazine editorial of March 2003 didn't matter).

George A. Maul (more info) , Florida Institute of Technology

We sent an e-mail to our public relations office and to the local newspapers, alerting them that we had a seimograph station and had recorded the earthquake event that caused the tsunami. We welcomed any questions they had about the event. Word got out that we had informaiton on the earthquake and one member of our department (Brad Jordan) and one local alumnus (Gary Nottis) conducted a series of interviews with WVIA, WITF, WKOK, KDKA and WHP radio stations and they carried the story. Further, televised interviews were carried on WBRE, WNEP and CCN. The local papers as well as Harrisubrg and Pittsburgh papers also carried the story. In all of the on campus interviews the reporters got a chance to see our seimograph, real-time display of seismicity complete with aftershocks, our print out of the earthquake seimogram, and other visual aids on the basics of earthquakes and tsunamis. We explained how to measure the magnitude of an earthquake and mentioned the frequency of earthquakes of that size. Other general quesiotns were fielded.
Dr. Mary Beth Gray, Bucknell University

We are an Earth Science news exhibit at a science center, so we centered all of our programming for the most part around the tsunami coverage. We played CNN and News World International on our large video screens for the week or so after the tsunami, basically as long as they gave extensive coverage to the topic, except for political issues about "is such-and-such country being generous or stingy"? We also more prominently than usual featured the Seismic Monitor from Iris (more info) , also on a large screen next to the video coverage.
We set our internet pages in the exhibit to feature tsunami coverage from the BBC and continue to have a station with links to tsunami background, before-and-after images, and USGS info. Our web page ( This site may be offline. ) , accessible both in the exhibit and to the general world on the internet, also has links on the front page to several sources about the disaster.

K Stofer, Maryland Science Center


I immediately added scientific materials on the Indonesian tsunami and tsunamis in general to my web site (more info) and have been updating it frequently. I also prepared a 64-slide Powerpoint presentation for my classes that I have been presenting these first couple weeks of classes. I am currently writing a book on the tsunami.
The web site was hit by a tsunami of visitors and it was shut down. Predicted bandwidth would have been 115 GB for the month; I'm only allowed 20GB/mnth. It's a limitation for which I was not prepared. The presentations to my classes have been very successful. There is a lot of interest in the tsunami among intro, gen-ed, oceanography, non-majors.

W. Sean Chamberlin, Fullerton College

At the SpiNet website (more info) we have catalogued the following Sumatra event information:

  • Seismograms from school based stations.
  • Specific articles/contributions from teachers operating sesimic stations.
  • Links that were passed around on the IRIS-ED lemail list
  • USGS Event Report information

We will be taking the seismograms submitted from AS-1 stations and using them with Alan Jones Seismic Waves program to integrate the data collection and teachability. This is to be completed by 2/28/2005.
Anne M Ortiz, Science Education Solutions

K-12 and public outreach through the Windows to the Universe website (more info) . I developed a news article and three pages on the website that describe the basic science of tsunamis.
Through our comments system we have received positive user feedback about the tsunami content. We are looking for animations and other graphics that we can add to our existing content.

Lisa Gardiner, National Center for Atmospheric Research/UCAR

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