Anatomy of a Tsunami

  • By Susan K. Lewis
  • Posted 03.29.05
  • NOVA

In the days following the disastrous events of December 26, 2004, tsunami researchers produced remarkably accurate computer simulations of the monstrous series of waves that took hundreds of thousands of lives. Here, examine some of these models and other graphics that reveal details of the tsunami from its initial generation in deep water to its deadly collision with coasts around the Indian Ocean.

Launch Interactive

See how the tsunami of 2004 developed, from its birth at the seafloor to its impact on coasts around the Indian Ocean.

This feature originally appeared on the site for the NOVA program Wave That Shook the World.


Special Thanks

Eric Geist, U.S. Geological Survey
Jana Goldman, NOAA
Vasily Titov, Tsunami Program, NOAA/PMEL


(Indian Ocean map)
© GlobeXplorer
(tsunami wavelength illustrations)
© WGBH/NOVA, adapted from graphics by Vasily Titov, NOAA/PMEL


(tsunami epicenter, wave at shoreline, wave in open ocean)
Created by Miho Aoki at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center, Scientific Consultant Elena Suleimani, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, provided courtesy of the NOAA and Alaska Sea Grant College Program
(3-D wave propagation)
Courtesy of Eric Geist, USGS

Related Links

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  • Once and Future Tsunamis

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  • Wave That Shook the World

    Experts reconstruct the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in an effort to prepare for the next big one.


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