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written by Wolfgang Bauer
This is simple Java applet that simulates a tsunami from the initial wave pulse through contact with a coastline.   It shows very clearly how a tsunami (which may appear insignificant at the point of propagation) gains amplitude as it approaches shore, thus becoming one of nature's most destructive forces.  Students may change the shape of the sea bottom near the coast and watch the effect on the approaching tsunami.  The amplitude of the initial pulse is also adjustable by the student.

This item is part of a larger collection of interactive java simulations on a wide range of topics in physics.  SEE RELATED ITEMS ON THIS PAGE for a link to the full collection.

Please note that this resource requires Java.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Oscillations & Waves
- Wave Motion
= Shock Waves
= Transfer of Energy in Waves
= Transverse Pulses and Waves
- High School
- Middle School
- Instructional Material
= Interactive Simulation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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On August 18, 2020, our automated link checker listed this item as potentially having a problem. Please be aware that this issue may still exist.
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Free access
© 2006 W. Bauer
Java applet, applet, interactive simulation, shallow-water waves, tsunami, tsunami propagation, tsunami simulation, wave energy, waves
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created March 26, 2009 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
May 11, 2012 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
October 24, 2007

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4C. Processes that Shape the Earth
  • 9-12: 4C/H5. Earthquakes often occur along the boundaries between colliding plates, and molten rock from below creates pressure that is released by volcanic eruptions, helping to build up mountains. Under the ocean basins, molten rock may well up between separating plates to create new ocean floor. Volcanic activity along the ocean floor may form undersea mountains, which can thrust above the ocean's surface to become islands.

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Wave Energy
Unit Title: Types of Mechanical Waves

Do you know why a tsunami (which appears insignificant in the open ocean) can be so devastating upon reaching a shoreline?  That's because when it begins, it has a huge wavelength -- several hundred kilometers -- and a fast wave speed, compared to a surface wave.  As a tsunami approaches shore, all that energy has to go somewhere as the seabed shallows.  This interactive simulation, appropriate for grades 4-8 with teacher support, is an excellent model of a tsunami wave as it hits shore.  Students can change the shape of the sea bed at the coastline and watch the effects.

Links to Units:
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Record Link
AIP Format
W. Bauer, (2006), WWW Document, (http://www.mhhe.com/physsci/chemistry/bauerwestfall/Applet%20Library/tsunami/tsunami.html).
W. Bauer, Michigan State Applet Collection: Tsunami Simulator (2006), <http://www.mhhe.com/physsci/chemistry/bauerwestfall/Applet%20Library/tsunami/tsunami.html>.
APA Format
Bauer, W. (2007, October 24). Michigan State Applet Collection: Tsunami Simulator. Retrieved May 22, 2024, from http://www.mhhe.com/physsci/chemistry/bauerwestfall/Applet%20Library/tsunami/tsunami.html
Chicago Format
Bauer, Wolfgang. Michigan State Applet Collection: Tsunami Simulator. October 24, 2007. http://www.mhhe.com/physsci/chemistry/bauerwestfall/Applet%20Library/tsunami/tsunami.html (accessed 22 May 2024).
MLA Format
Bauer, Wolfgang. Michigan State Applet Collection: Tsunami Simulator. 2006. 24 Oct. 2007. 22 May 2024 <http://www.mhhe.com/physsci/chemistry/bauerwestfall/Applet%20Library/tsunami/tsunami.html>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Wolfgang Bauer", Title = {Michigan State Applet Collection: Tsunami Simulator}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {22 May 2024}, Month = {October 24, 2007}, Year = {2006} }
Refer Export Format

%A Wolfgang Bauer %T Michigan State Applet Collection: Tsunami Simulator %D October 24, 2007 %U http://www.mhhe.com/physsci/chemistry/bauerwestfall/Applet%20Library/tsunami/tsunami.html %O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %A Bauer, Wolfgang %D October 24, 2007 %T Michigan State Applet Collection: Tsunami Simulator %V 2024 %N 22 May 2024 %8 October 24, 2007 %9 application/java %U http://www.mhhe.com/physsci/chemistry/bauerwestfall/Applet%20Library/tsunami/tsunami.html

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Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

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Michigan State Applet Collection: Tsunami Simulator:

Is Part Of Michigan State University: The Applet Collection

This is a link to the full collection of Java applets developed by the same authors.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Supplemented By Modeling the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami for Introductory Physics Students

This article contains a complete lesson plan for constructing a 6-foot tsunami tank in the high school science classroom. It gives explicit directions  on how to create an impulsive disturbance in the tank to simulate an earthquake that, in turn, generates a tsunami-like wave.

relation by Caroline Hall
Covers the Same Topic As Waves of Destruction: Tsunamis

A set of 3 interactive articles that accompany the Savage Earth PBS series. Users will explore the anatomy of a tsunami, view animations of how tsunamis generate, and hear an interview with a tsunami survivor.

relation by Caroline Hall

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