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Killer waves
Large wave
More than a hundred years ago – back in 1883 – the volcano Krakatau erupted. As a result of the eruption’s climax, four huge waves, called tsunamis, claimed the lives of 33,000 people. The waves were 30 to 40 metres above sea level and swept as much as eight kilometres in land. The mechanisms by which the tsunamis were formed remains controversial, as experts continue to study Krakatau’s eruption.

More recently, the world witnessed the Asian tsunami disaster. On Boxing Day, a magnitude 9.3 earthquake ripped apart the seafloor off the coast of northwest Sumatra. It unleashed a devastating tsunami that travelled thousands of kilometres across the Indian Ocean.

Have you ever wondered what makes a big wave?

You might like to …

• research tsunamis and other large waves; try to find out about the physics of waves
• make a wave machine that simulates how waves behave when they reach the shore
• investigate how the length, height and distance between breakwaters affects how well they stop waves
• test how the design of a boat’s keel stops it capsizing. You could compare the stability of mono hull boats and trimarans or catamarans
• look at how surfboards are designed to stop them flipping over or why surfers wax their boards and what the wax contains.

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