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Tsunamis
What do you know about tsunamis? Find out by playing this quiz.

Tsunamis

This GCSE Geography quiz is about tsunamis. At about a quarter to three in the afternoon of the 11th March 2011, a huge and powerful natural hazard known as a tsunami crossed the coast of Japan and flooded buildings and farmland up 10 km inland. About 16,000 people were known to have died with about 2,500 missing and over 200,000 made homeless. A nuclear power station was damaged and the people living within 20 km of it had to be evacuated to escape the radiation leaks.

All this happened when the fourth largest earthquake in the world (since records began in 1900) occurred a few km off the east coast of Japan - two of the Earth's tectonic plates had suddenly moved about 20 metres.

Tsunamis are caused by large underwater landslips or earthquakes. They travel as a fast-moving wave or series of waves through a sea or ocean and are hardly noticeable in deep water.

When they approach land, where the water is much shallower, their true height and power is seen. First, the water recedes from the coast, often by a distance of hundreds of metres. Then the wave arrives. At its maximum, the 2011 Japanese tsunami was 40 metres high.

The main defence against a tsunami is to evacuate as many people as possible before it arrives, which is not easy as sometimes there is little warning. Evacuation may be to get people inland or simply getting them as high as possible in a tsunami-proof building. Building high sea walls could also help. When a tsunami is created close to a coastline, there may be only a few minutes warning. It might be possible to out-run the wave in a motor vehicle on a straight road but on foot, there is no chance, they move rapidly.

The primary effects of a tsunami are the destruction of property and flooding. The secondary effects are much greater and can include both short- and long-term events. For example, after the Japan tsunami, the oyster fishing industry was destroyed in the area, there were fires from burst gas pipelines, people left the area forever in fear of future tsunamis and large amounts of floating debris entered the Pacific ocean with the backwash from the tsunami.

After any natural disaster, there are both short-term (e.g. rescuing injured or stranded people, erecting temporary housing and putting out fires) and long term responses. The long-term responses are mainly about cleaning up and rebuilding, together with improving early warning systems and other tsunami defence infrastructure like sea walls.

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1.
The main primary effect of a tsunami is:
Drought
Flooding
Fire
Famine
Fire and famine are secondary effects and a tsunami does not cause a drought
2.
A tsunami can be formed by:
nuclear explosions
large shoals of fish
underwater earthquakes
all of the above
They can also be formed by landslides that occur underwater or at the edge of a sea or ocean
3.
Which of the following is a long-term response to a tsunami?
Rebuilding schools
Putting out fires
Making a news report about the tsunami
All of the above
There are many more examples of long-term responses like cleaning up the horrendous mess left after a tsunami, repairing buildings, roads and railways and developing better early-warning systems
4.
A tsunami is:
a type of Chinese fish
any wave used by surfers
a powerful wave
an instrument used to measure the temperature of the oceans
Tsunamis can travel for thousands of kilometres without losing much of their destructive power
5.
When a tsunami reaches shallower water, which of the following is true?
The height of the wave increases as it slows down
The tsunami speeds up
The height of the wave decreases
It is stopped by the beach
When it comes ashore, the height of the tsunami depends on the energy released during the earthquake or landslide that caused it
6.
Which of the following is a short-term response to a tsunami?
Rescuing stranded people
Setting up beds in a sports hall so that survivors have somewhere to sleep
Putting out fires
All of the above
In LEDCs, this is much more difficult and often takes several days for aid to arrive from MEDCs
7.
In 1607, many people and their livestock living in coastal areas around the Bristol Channel were killed by a sudden flood. Eyewitness reports from survivors describe a wall of water rushing across the countryside for as far as they could see. It moved faster than people could run. The area remained under water for almost two weeks. Geographers used to think that this was a storm surge but more recently it is thought to have been a tsunami. What other observation would have confirmed the tsunami theory?
Boats bobbing up and down on the sea
Thunder and lightning at the same time as the wave came onto land
They would have seen a huge wave coming across the sea as the tsunami approached
The sea pulled back a long way from the shore just before the wave came onto the land
The theory is that an earthquake or landslide under the sea south of Ireland could have caused it but there is no real proof for this
8.
Which of the following could be an economic long-term effect of a tsunami?
Trees are replanted
Temporary housing is provided for local communities
Rubbish is cleared from farmland
Tourists stay away from affected areas
Replanting trees and clearing rubbish are environmental responses, temporary housing does cost money but is classed as a social response. Tourists staying away from the area is an economic effect as it would affect the local (and possibly the national) economy
9.
Which of the following is a feature of a tsunami?
The water at the edge of the sea pulls back from the coast
Because of their shape, a tsunami always looks dark green
The top of a tsunami is always at least 10 metres higher than the surrounding sea water
All of the above
Tsunamis are difficult to spot out in deep sea or deep ocean areas because the top of the wave is rarely more than a few metres high
10.
Why might there be greater loss of life when a tsunami hits an LEDC?
The country needs foreign aid before it can begin any short-term responses to the tsunami
The country needs foreign aid before it can begin any long-term responses to the tsunami
The government of an LEDC is not interested in helping the general population
The population of poorer countries is much greater than in MEDCs
Within a few days after the tsunami, diseases like cholera can become established and spread. People have no clean drinking water so become dehydrated and ill, they have no shelter and receive no medical treatment and may die from hypothermia or injuries
Author:  Kev Woodward

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