A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by a large displacement of a massive amount of body of water.  The Japanese word tsunami translates to mean, “harbor wave.”  The term tidal wave comes from the fact the a tsunami wave is much longer than a typical wave and often appears like rising tides.

Earthquakes, landslides, meteorites, volcanic eruptions, or even man-made explosions can cause tsunamis.  Destruction occurs from the initial force of the walls and waves of water crashing against the shore and inland with additional damage coming from the massive volume of water returning to sea and carrying debris and property with it.

The 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean is one of the deadliest accounting for over 290,000 people who were killed or are missing from 14 countries bordering the Indian Ocean.  The largest tidal wave occurred along the coast of Alaska with water reaching a peak of 1,720 feet (524 m).  Japan is the country with the most recorded tsunamis.