Warning Signs of Tsunamis

Dramatic photos and videos of the 2004 tsunami show a coastal flood of Biblical scale.
Dramatic photos and videos of the 2004 tsunami show a coastal flood of Biblical scale.
One of the events that trigger tsunamis is under sea earthquakes
One of the events that trigger tsunamis is under sea earthquakes
This is a chart indicating travel times for a tsunami generated in the SW Pacific.
This is a chart indicating travel times for a tsunami generated in the SW Pacific.
This dramatic Mar 11, 2011 tsunami photo shows 33 foot waves breaking over the tops of shoreline trees. The water continued inland for several kilometers destroying everything in its path.
This dramatic Mar 11, 2011 tsunami photo shows 33 foot waves breaking over the tops of shoreline trees. The water continued inland for several kilometers destroying everything in its path.
This is the rubble swept before the Mar. 11, 2011 tsunami now well inland.
This is the rubble swept before the Mar. 11, 2011 tsunami now well inland.

Those who live on the coast need to be aware of warning signs for tsunamis

If you ever get caught on the coast and you have just survived a strong earthquake measuring at least 8.7 on the Richter scale, you need to be aware of the possibility of a tsunami. You may not have been at the center of the earthquake and it may have been centered in the ocean off the coast. You can’t be certain by guessing, but there are warning signs of an impending tsunami. Sometimes these signs will occur up to two weeks in advance. If you are not aware of the long range signs, then you will have only a few moments to react after noticing signs that occur just before it strikes.

Prior to the 2004 Malaysia sub oceanic earthquake that triggered one of the worst tsunamis ever recorded, signs were noticed up to two weeks in advance by seafaring people of the region called sea gypsies. They spend up to 80 percent of their time on the open waters of the ocean. They live by diving and fishing. Two weeks prior to the disastrous tsunami, these people noticed changes in the types of fish for various locations. Fish were migrating into regions that they did not inhabit earlier. They knew something was wrong and attempted to warn others, but due to contempt others had for sea gypsies, they were ignored. Days before the disaster, birds got restless. So did cats, dogs and elephants. Some of these disappeared and elephants in particular were seen running to the hills. People though, went about their business as normal. On the morning of the disaster, there was a strong earthquake and this created fear and havoc in itself.

Several minutes to hours later, depending on the distance from the source, people noticed sudden changes just before the killer wave rolled in. There was a sudden rush of the waters from the shoreline out into the ocean which left fish and crabs stranded. Sea birds took to the air and would not land. A building roar could be heard seaward. After a few minutes, people witnessed a growing wave approaching from the distance. Some stood and stared, transfixed by the approaching spectacle. Others turned and ran. For most it was already too late. The huge surge crashed inland at high speed and swept everything away in its path trapping tens of thousands in the debris created by the rushing waters. What does this tell us?

The 2004 Maylasian tsunami

If there is a strong earthquake that knocks down buildings and does heavy damage on its own and open ocean is nearby, there is danger of a tsunami. But we need not wait for the earthquake. In the weeks leading up to the earthquake, there will be signs. These will be in the form of local sea life changing it habits. If you listen to fishermen, they will usually volunteer information on these changes as part of their daily chatter. You will also notice that other animals and birds will get jittery and agitated. The day that the quake strikes may seem insignificant, especially if you are some distance from the epicenter. It may seem like only a moderate quake, but quite severe elsewhere. The sudden migration of sea birds away from the ocean and land animals moving inland is a sign that something is amiss. It is advisable if you follow their lead. It would be good if you have a survival kit already prepared for such an event, especially if the region has a reputation for earthquakes.

Be aware of your surroundings. Do you live on an active fault zone, or is there one near the coast under the ocean? Are there any potentially explosive volcanoes, especially island ones such as Santorini or Krakatau? When these explode, one of the side effects are devastating tsunamis. You must be aware of the volcanoes condition and the signs of imminent explosion that could cause a volcanic created tsunami. If the island volcano is showing signs of an explosion, it is probably wise to go inland from the coast and up into the mountains. If in a boat, head immediately to deep water as the tsunami's profile is much shallower in deep water than in the shallows.

Tsunamis can also arise from under ocean landslides that are not earthquake created. These have happened in geologic history with devastating consequences. Some occurred from the main islands of Hawaii and others on islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Landslide that results from crumbling masses of land can trigger a tsunami that approaches a kilometer in height. Fortunately, these are rare, but there are a few locations of current concern where a collapse of a landslide could bring coastal civilization to its knees. Too little is known about these types of occurrences as nothing like this has occurred in recent history. We are more familiar with earthquake and volcanic created tsunamis.

March 11th, 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

Innundations from the 2011 Japan tsunami

Here are some resources on tsunamis


Want to know about tsunamis? This is the resource for you to examine how tsunamis are caused. Interestingly, not all tsunamis get their start from earthquakes. Learn why some places get hit while others are spared when an earthquake triggers one of these killer waves.


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Comments 15 comments

ashley 6 years ago

its useful...........thank u...

but sumthings are irrelavant remove them....

on the whole itis good...

thanks for the info...

nextstopjupiter profile image

nextstopjupiter 6 years ago from here, there and everywhere

Thank you for this well written hub! There is only one open question: Why is it necessary to build a high-tech early warning system which can fail when a natural warning system exists?

syzygyastro profile image

syzygyastro 6 years ago from Vancouver, Canada Author

You are of course, correct on this point. However most city raised people will hardly know where to even begin to read natural signs. I'll relate a couple of points. Recall the recent earthquake storm in Christchurch New Zealand. It is documented that just before the earthquake storm, that there was a significant and easily seen earth light phenomena that many people witnessed along the line of the fault. It was mistaken by some as an aurora, but was too short lived to be that. Earth lights often occur in regions where stresses in the earth are about to be released. If there is a significant light display, expect a large earthquake very soon. If you see this, take earthquake survival precautions. The other sign of course is that of animal signs. Again, most people are not aware enough concerning animal signs to respond to them, This fact emerged in the 2004 Malaysia Boxing Day tsunami. Sea gypsies noted changes in fish behavior as much as two weeks in advance; certainly a long enough time for people to respond.

As most people are unaware of these signs, then the use of technology, despite its limitations, becomes important to warn coastal cities if a tsunami is involved. Other catastrophes can have warning signs as well. Signs of an imminent volcanic eruption that can cause tsunamis is unaccounted changes in the land such as rising and falling unaccountably. In the Sudra Straight a new island was born in a matter of days. This is ominous as well as the sudden volcano in the middle of the Red Sea. The new island may explode, collapse or both and this would create a massive tsunami. Right now the Sudra Straight needs to be watched constantly, especially since the nearby volcano Merapi is in a state of building eruption.

If you are aware of natural signs and they indicate trouble, you should respond accordingly. If not, then pay attention to what earth changes are unfolding through the technology of media such as the internet. It is true that when a natural disaster occurs, the first thing to go down is high tech. The best thing to do is to become aware of what nature is telling us. If you have a pet that becomes agitated for unknown reasons for a prolonged time and you also have recurrent headaches when you are normally immune, take note!

We are part of nature and if we tune into what our own bodies are telling us like animals can, then we can also take the right actions.

KLeichester 5 years ago

Thank you for sharing this with your readers. Keep posting.

crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Useful hub,thanks for sharing.

Alberto 5 years ago

Here in Acapulco Mexico, we usually have earthquakes, the next day of the Japan tsunami, we saw a strange event.. a thousands of fhishes were seen in the beachside, like if they were trying to escape in groups.. maybe we should put attention to this warning.

see the link:


syzygyastro profile image

syzygyastro 5 years ago from Vancouver, Canada Author

I would say that it is important to consider animal sign, especially if more than one species is involved. If there are signs like birds refusing to roost, dogs fleeing to the hills, then look out! Fish washing up in droves is happening everywhere, so it may be signs of disease. There needs to be supporting reactions across the species. I am certain that these signs existed in Japan up to two weeks prior to the event. There were in Malaysia in 2004. These signs will likely be described later. Are you also seeing a substantial increase in UFO like activity? If so; another warning sign, so be alert and prepared to take action to avoid injury when it strikes. In the moments before it strikes, all animals will become highly agitated. When that happens, get into the open and on high ground, away from buildings and trees and lie flat. Building roofs of course are out. Have your survival gear close at hand.

RussellLHuey profile image

RussellLHuey 5 years ago

Great information I found in this hub. Thanks.

Nhlamza mobie 4 years ago

Useful info

ut67tg 4 years ago

nice link lots of good info

Max 4 years ago

i was in the 2004 Tsunami

syzygyastro profile image

syzygyastro 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada Author

I see you survived. Did you get any good video and if so, is there any link to it?

Max 4 years ago

I was in the 2004 Tsunami now i know i will by in the New Madrid Earthquake 10.0 ++++

Max 4 years ago

My mom and dad and my brothers and sisters all 10 died in the 2004 Tsunami when i was 11 years old and now i am 18 years old

vielly 3 years ago

good link for kids like me

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