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Chapter 26: The Physical Geography of East Asia

Students have read about the region's position on the Pacific Ring of Fire and the constant threat of earthquakes. Tsunamis are a related phenomenon that may occur frequently, but only sometimes do they become large enough to have devastating consequences. Tsunamis have caused significant loss of lives and much property destruction throughout history. In this activity students will learn to better understand the physics of tsunamis, what their origins are, and how people can escape their fury.

Lesson Description
Students will visit PBS Online's feature about tsunamis to learn how tsunamis work, what causes them, what their effects are, and what steps countries have taken to try to defend against them. Students will answer questions pertaining to these topics and will then create a brochure to explain essential tsunami facts and procedures that people in a tsunami-prone region need in order to survive a tsunami.

Instructional Objectives

  1. Students will be able to describe the characteristics, causes, and effects of tsunamis.
  2. Student will be able to apply what they have learned by creating a brochure about tsunamis and ways to protect against them.

Applied Content Standards
Standard 1: The geographically informed person knows and understands how to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective.
Standard 4: The geographically informed person knows and understands the physical and human characteristics of places.
Standard 7: The geographically informed person knows and understands the physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface.
Standard 15: The geographically informed person knows and understands how physical systems affect human systems.
Standard 18: The geographically informed person knows and understands how to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future.

Student Web Activity Answers

  1. Tsunamis can travel at speeds up to 500 mph. They slow down as they reach shore due to the shallowing sea floor, but the loss in speed is often accompanied by a dramatic increase in wave height.
  2. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, or the impact of asteroids or comets can trigger tsunamis.
  3. In deep water, the waves spread out and usually are only a few feet high with hundreds of miles between the crests. They would hardly be noticeable to a passenger on a passing ship.
  4. Japan has tried building concrete sea walls to blunt the impact of the waves and gates that slam shut to protect harbors. In Japan and the United States, the foundation of tsunami warning systems is the seismometer, which can detect earthquakes under the ocean. However, as this often results in false alarms, the countries have begun using sensors that sit on the ocean floor and can detect a tsunami passing overhead.
  5. Students' brochures will vary.

Go To Student Web Activity


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