Coastal Processes, Hazards, and Society

Summary and Final Tasks


Summary and Final Tasks


As you have learned first-hand from the data presented here, tsunamis have the capacity to flood low-lying coastlines and can push waves of water inland for hundreds of meters, if not several kilometers, under the right geographic conditions. In the images studied on the website and historical imagery on Google Earth, it is easy to see how far inland the tsunami impacted.

By studying a case example like this catastrophic event, geoscientists collect incredibly important information that is absolutely critical in helping to develop plans for mitigating and or adapting to similar events that will occur in the future. Unfortunately, the findings often don’t get to people on the ground until years, if not decades, after such events – sometimes, after rebuilding has taken place. You may have noticed in the reading that large tsunamis are relatively infrequent with some happening decades apart; however, you may have also seen where they can also be more frequent as in the case of the 1960 Chile and the 1964 Alaskan events, or the 2004 Sumatra, the 2005 Sumatra, and the 2007 Sumatra earthquakes. Suffice it to say that it is critical that the general public becomes educated on the topic. Moreover, it is also important for government agencies and political leaders to act on these data and become active in the process of helping to protect life, resources, and infrastructure in new and creative ways, so we can avoid such catastrophic loss of life in the future. Hopefully, the materials covered here will lead you to an understanding of the complexities of providing communities with early warnings to protect lives and property.

Tsunamis are unpredictable, and because of their unpredictable nature, tsunamis are incredibly damaging when they occur and are very challenging to mitigate and adapt to even in the most technologically advanced countries of the world. Imagine, if one of the world’s most technologically centered societies can be rocked to its core by an event of this magnitude, what can and will happen in the future in countries like the U.S. when we are impacted again? Will our outcome be similar to or possibly even worse than the event that impacted Japan? For much of the U.S. population, the risks are perceived to be relatively low because of the minimal plate tectonic activity along the eastern seaboard in the Atlantic. However, geoscientists are still concerned about a number of high-risk areas, including the Cascadia region of the Northwest coast. What do you know about risks for tsunamis in the area that you live, vacation, or are interested in studying?

For additional Information

Japan Earthquake & Tsunami of 2011: Facts and Information

Final Tasks

Reminder - Complete all of the Module 7 tasks!

You have reached the end of Module 7! Double-check the Module 7 Roadmap to make sure you have completed all of the activities listed there before you begin Module 8.