Tsunami reaching the Japan coast (photo: NASA).In March 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan. The center of the quake was about 70 kilometers east of Tohoku, Japan. The quake was the most powerful to hit Japan in recorded history. The earthquake triggered a tsunami or seismic wave. At its highest points, the tsunami was over 40 meters high.

The combination of earthquake and tsunami caused a lot of damage to Japan. The cost of rebuilding the damaged areas was estimated at 120 billion dollars. Nearly 16,000 deaths were recorded.

When an earthquake or volcanic eruption occurs, a large amount of water is shifted suddenly. This creates a wave with a lot of energy that moves at nearly 1,000 kilometers per hour. When the wave reaches a coast, it will increase in height and can cause severe damage.

Photo:  Japan tsunami in 2011 (Creative Commons: NASA).

Aerial View of the Tsunami

Video: view of the tsunami from a helicopter (source: YouTube).

Ground Level View of the Tsunami

Video: view of the tsunami from a rooftop (source: YouTube).

Improving Your Reading and Thinking Skills

Think for a few moments. Try to recall the major ideas in this article. When you are done, click the box below for a list of main ideas.


How did you do? With practice, you should be able to identify many of the major ideas. You may even discover some important ideas that aren’t listed.


Tsunami, Enchanted Learning.