"This book contains true stories that illustrate how to survive-and how not to survive-a tsunami. It is meant for people who live, work, or play along coasts that tsunamis may strike. Such coasts surround most of the Pacific Ocean but also include some coastal areas of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Although many people used to call tsunamis 'tidal waves,' they are not related to tides but are rather a series of waves, or 'wave trains,' usually caused by changes in the level of the sea floor during earthquakes. Tsunamis have also been caused by the eruption of coastal and island volcanoes, sub marine land slides, and oceanic impacts of large meteorites. As happened in Sumatra in 2004, tsunamis can reach heights of 50 feet, not just on the coast but miles inland as well. The stories in this book were selected from interviews with people who survived a Pacific Ocean tsunami in 1960. Many of these people, including the nurse at right, contended with the waves near their source, along the coast of Chile. Others faced the tsunami many hours later in Hawaii and Japan. Most of the interviews were done decades later in the 1980's and 1990's. The stories provide a mixed bag of lessons about tsunami survival. Some illustrate actions that reliably saved lives-heeding natural warnings, abandoning belongings, and going promptly to high ground and staying there until the tsunami is really over. Others describe taking refuge in buildings or trees or floating on debris-tactics that had mixed results and can be recommended only as desperate actions for people trapped on low ground."
U.S. Geological Survey: http://pubs.usgs.gov/