Initial Publication Date: October 7, 2011

Tsunami Visualizations

Compiled by John McDaris and Monica Bruckner at SERC.

This page presents animations and movies related to tsunamis and their effects on the physical and human landscape.

Browse the complete set of Visualization Collections. If you have comments or additional resources to add to the page, use our Feedback box to let us know.

Jump Down To: Hypothetical Tsunamis | Special Collection

Historical Tsunamis

Papau New Guinea, 1998 (more info) This is a USGS visualization of the 1998 tsunami that struck Papua New Guinea. There are also medium-(4.7 Mb) and high-resolution (16.8 Mb) versions.

Cascadia Tsunami (more info) A model of the wave propagation from the 1700 Cascadia Tsunami, created by the Geological Survey of Canada.

Peru, 2001 (more info) This is a medium-resolution (4.3 Mb) animation from the USGS of the June 23, 2001 tsunami that struck Peru and the west coast of South America. There is also a high-resolution version (24 Mb).

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Hypothetical Tsunamis

Pacific Northwest, North America (more info) Stochastic model for future tsunamis

Tsunami Generation (more info) This animation by Prof. Miho Aoki from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Art Department provides a very nice look at how a tsunami can be generated by a subduction zone earthquake. The visualization is large, so be prepared for lengthy download.

Coastal Inundation (more info) This animation by Prof. Miho Aoki from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Art Department shows how a coastal town can be inundated by a tsunami.

Tsunami and Earthquake Simulation ( This site may be offline. ) Three Shockwave animations demonstrating how earthquakes, waves, and tsunamis are generated.

Formation of a Tsunami (more info) This Flash animation, by McGraw-Hill, illustrates the steps involved in producing a tsunami. First, motion along a submerged fault plane causes a column of water to rise directly above the epicenter. As the wave approaches the shore, it slows, wave height grows, and wave crests grow closer together. The heightened wave then reaches the shore and can extend far inland, destroying everything in its path. Tsunami-like waves can also be caused by underwater landslides.

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Special Collection

Dr. Steven Ward (more info) , of the University of California - Santa Cruz, has developed an extensive site of animations and movies on tsunamis.

Chicxulub Tsunami Animation (more info) An animation that simulates the tsunami created by the Chicxulub impact off the coast of Mexico. The model simulates the height of the tsunami waves as they reached the surrounding parts of North, Central, South America as they are projected to have looked at the time of the impact.