Tsunami photos and videos

In xkcd.com/1010 (I have a hard time not reading that as “ten”) I said that before 2004, there weren’t really any photos or videos of tsunamis. This isn’t quite true—there were a handful of photos and at least one video.

When I was a kid, I was had an irrationally powerful fear of tsunamis (Etymology-Man would suggest “cymophobia”). I swam in the ocean a lot when I was very young, so waves were a big part of my world.  I would fret about tsunamis whenever I was near the coast, and to this day I have occasional nightmares about a wave coming out of nowhere and sweeping me away.

Looking back, part of what made tsunamis frightening was was that I didn’t know what they looked like, and my imagination ran wild filling in the gaps. I read what I could find about them. In particular, I remember being just old enough to work my way through this book, and carrying it around with me so I could read the tsunami section over and over. It included a grainy photo of a ship in a Japanese harbor plowing through an unimpressive-looking line of breakers. I think that’s also where I found a photo of some people running away from something (it was this photo, but the reproduction in my book was too grainy to see what they were running from).

Years later, after the rise of the web, I realized maybe I could now find a video of a tsunami, and finally see the thing that had so captivated me as a child. But my searches for videos didn’t turn up much of anything.

Then the 2004 tsunami happened. Shortly after, as YouTube and its various clones proliferated, there was more horrifying footage available than I could handle.

A year or two ago, I read an article somewhere (I have tried to find it again with no luck) which mentioned that before 2004, there hadn’t been much in the way of photographic or video records of tsunamis, and that this had contributed to a lack of understanding of their form. My childhood impression seemingly confirmed, I worked this into a comic.

It turns out I was mistaken. There are several photographs, some of which can be seen here, here, and here. There’s also a video here (sent in by Phil Plait).

I think what confused me as a child was that none of the photos showed the wave I expected—just debris, and occasionally some visible water. Now that I’ve seen horrifying videos like this, I’ve gone back to some of those old photos and realized that they did show a tsunami. It was just so unlike what I was expecting that I didn’t recognize it.

So thank you to everyone who sent in information. It’s really fascinating stuff. Oh, and anyone interested in the history of tsunamis might want to check out a Google Books advanced search for material published before 1850 containing phrases like earthquake waveearthquake tide, or earthquake water feet. There are some gripping historical accounts buried there, along with some really interesting speculation by 19th-century scientists about the mechanisms behind earthquakes and their associated waves (the consensus seemed to be hot gas moving between subterranean chambers).

199 thoughts on “Tsunami photos and videos

  1. There are some gripping historical accounts buried there, along with some really interesting speculation by 19th-century scientists about the mechanisms behind earthquakes and their associated waves the consensus seemed to be hot gas moving between subterranean chambers. my website

  2. A little while back, as the SOPA thing blew up, I poked davean, the xkcd sysadmin, about whether it was time to make switching to someone more geek-friendly a priority. click here

  3. Septic systems and hookup. Most of these products and technologies have been designed to address one or both of the two central problems presented by flushing away human waste. nail art designs

  4. I am not a pure vegetarian but I love food like this, I can somehow say it is a good thing to consider to gain more nutrients for the body. go to my site

  5. Then the 2004 tsunami occurred. Soon after, as YouTube and its various imitations spread, there was more horrible video available than I could manage. HCG

  6. I also desired to create it difficult to know the places more than a day or so in enhance, so that if geohashing became well-known in an place. htc one m8 cover

  7. I swam in the ocean a lot when I was very young, so waves were a big part of my world. I would fret about tsunamis whenever I was near the coast, and to this day I have occasional nightmares about a wave coming out of nowhere and sweeping me away. fafsa

  8. No one could post a record of upcoming places that woud give home entrepreneurs, recreation place ranger, or regional cops a chance to get ready. chin

  9. I think that’s also where I discovered a picture of some individuals operating away from something (it was this picture, but the duplication in my guide was too grainy to see what they were operating from). Grey Laminate Flooring

  10. Working in a career that helps others is the difference between looking forward to your job and forcing yourself to go to work each day. Joe Sinkwitz

  11. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well useful info. Thanks for the post. I will definitely comeback.XHey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well useful info. Thanks for the post. I will definitely comeback. Jeremy Schoemaker

  12. I am actually getting ready to across this information, is very helpful my friend. Also great blog here with all of the valuable information you have. Keep up the good work you are doing here.

  13. I am actually getting ready to across this information, is very helpful my friend. Also great blog here with all of the valuable information you have. Keep up the good work you are doing here. see this page

  14. “We’ve been dealing with the people at IBM to evaluation traditional medical care information and assess the decision-making ability and suggestions Watson has for those assess situations,” he said. Antique Wine

  15. IBM to evaluation traditional medical care information and assess the decision-making ability and suggestions Watson has for those assess situations. Ben Shaoul

  16. This statement runs counter to all of the ‘be happy with your size’ marketing and advertising that is so prevalent in today’s magazines and television commercials, but it is true. Christian Broda

  17. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information It is extremely helpful for me. FreedomPop

  18. The post contains really beneficial information that will satisfy readers and can clarify things upon. You have you a nice way of presenting certain issue and seems to be so qualified. FreedomPop review

  19. So the main factor here is that excellent company exhibitions need to be reinforced by the whole market. We all need to do a better job of creating them a more useful encounter. park office

  20. Together with Ceres, we aim to create this opportunity by implementing our plants security profile to achieve reliable generate enhancement,” said Daniel Bachner, Syngenta’s International Head of Sugarcane. another article

  21. I saw the opening for the instructor place with Viega and after using their products for decades as a plumbing expert, I knowledgeable the place would be a excellent fit,” described Richards. “I am comfortable discussing in front of groups, especially about topics (plumbing and heating) I have a lot of experience in. working on his second book now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>