Taming the Tsunami: Investigating Different Structures to Reduce Tsunami Damage *
|Time Required||Average (6-10 days)|
|Material Availability||Readily available|
|Cost||Average ($50 - $100)|
On December 26, 2004, a magnitude 9.2 megathrust earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia unleashed a powerful tsunami that hit the coasts of 14 countries and caused the loss of over 200,000 lives. The devastation that the tsunami left in its wake was heartbreaking, and people across the world united to help the survivors.
Tsunamis are a powerful force of nature that can change the features of a coastline and result in millions of dollars in economic loss, but can anything be done to mitigate the damage that a tsunami can wreak? Can manmade structures reduce the energy of incoming tsunami waves? In this ocean science project, you will model a tsunami and then come up with novel structures that can potentially reduce the effect of incoming tsunami waves. Take a look at the Science Buddies project The Science Behind Tsunamis, to get ideas on how to create a wave tank for testing. Would a sea wall, like the one shown in Figure 1, below, help? How thick and high would it have to be? Would any manmade structure in the water reduce the strength of a tsunami wave? Try to keep your structure as true-to-life as possible and keep it as cost-effective as possible. For example, engineers could build a wall around a tsunami-prone area that is 100 feet high and 100 feet thick, but that would be cost prohibitive, and people living on the coast might protest because their view of the ocean would be ruined.
Figure 1. Tsunami wall at Tsu, Japan. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user ChrisO, 2005.)
Michelle Maranowski, PhD, Science Buddies
Cite This PageGeneral citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.
Last edit date: 2017-11-06
- Dalrymple, R. and Kriebel, D. (2005, June). Lessons in Engineering from the Tsunami in Thailand. National Academy of Engineering Publications. Vol. 35, No. 2. Retrieved February 9, 2010, from http://www.nae.edu/Publications/TheBridge/Archives/V35-2SystemsChallengesonaGlobalScale/LessonsinEngineeringfromtheTsunamiinThailand.aspx
News Feed on This Topic
Recent Feedback Submissions
|Sort by Date||Sort by User Name|
What was the most important thing you learned?
We learned that we were not prepared to undertake a project that had no procedures. We learned that failure is an option. Good lesson to learn.
What problems did you encounter?
Creating a consistent wave is difficult without a mechanical device. We did not have sufficient resources to build an ocean large enough (in length) to allow the wave to develop. We spent hours attempting to create a consistent wave. I hope the next student who tries this can succeed.
Can you suggest any improvements or ideas?
Before proceeding with this project, you must determine 1. how to create a consistent wave 2. what are you going to measure, and how are you going to measure it 3. is there room to do all of this in the space you have allotted for your "ocean"
Science Buddies materials are free for everyone to use, thanks to the support of our sponsors. What would you tell our sponsors about how Science Buddies helped you with your project?
Overall, how would you rate the quality of this project?
What is your enthusiasm for science after doing your project?
Compared to a typical science class, please tell us how much you learned doing this project.
|Do you agree?||Report Inappropriate Comment|
Ask an ExpertThe Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.
Ask an Expert
If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
Marine ArchitectWater covers more than 70 percent of Earth's surface, and marine architects design vessels that allow humans and their cargo to cross through or under those waters safely and efficiently. Some of their watercraft designs are enormous, like merchant ships, which carry huge loads of oil, cars, food, clothing, toys, and other goods, across thousands of miles of open waters. These ships are essential for trade between countries. Other vessels are smaller and more specialized, like luxury yachts or cruise liners. Still others are designed for military purposes. Read more
Civil EngineersIf you turned on a faucet, used a bathroom, or visited a public space (like a road, a building, or a bridge) today, then you've used or visited a project that civil engineers helped to design and build. Civil engineers work to improve travel and commerce, provide people with safe drinking water and sanitation, and protect communities from earthquakes and floods. This important and ancient work is combined with a desire to make structures that are as beautiful and environmentally sound, as they are functional and cost-effective. Read more
Civil Engineering TechnicianDo you dream of building big? Civil engineering technicians help build some of the largest structures in the world—from buildings, bridges, and dams to highways, airfields, and wastewater treatment facilities. Many of these construction projects are "public works," meaning they strengthen and benefit a community, state, or the nation. Read more
News Feed on This Topic
Looking for more science fun?
Try one of our science activities for quick, anytime science explorations. The perfect thing to liven up a rainy day, school vacation, or moment of boredom.Find an Activity
Explore Our Science Videos
DIY Glitter Surprise Package with a Simple Circuit
How to Make Elephant Toothpaste
Flower Dissection - STEM Activity