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SEISMIC STUDIES. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami swept over entire islands, wiping some of them completely off the map and killing more than 230,000 people. In Tsunami Warning, author and illustrator Taylor Morrison explains how scientists developed the first Seismic Sea Wave Warning System and are studying the powerful waves to save lives by decreasing false alarms and reacting with greater speed and accuracy to real threats.

From The Asian Reporter, V19, #24 (June 23, 2009), page 11.

Neighborhood watch

Tsunami Warning

By Taylor Morrison

Houghton Mifflin, 2007

Hardcover, 32 pages, $17.00

By Josephine Bridges

My uncle the librarian ó who I thank for my love of reading ó and my uncle the Earth Science teacher ó who I thank for my love of this planet ó would have marvelled at Tsunami Warning. Itís informative and thrilling, and it would have appealed to me just as much when I was following my uncles around asking endless questions as it does today. Not every kid is going to have the patience to wade through the technical information, but thatís okay; thereís plenty of drama here. Stunning illustrations, too.

Tsunami Warning begins with a gripping description and depiction of the December 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean in which more than 230,000 people lost their lives, then leaps back in time to 1925, when scientists were developing two revolutionary theories: "The first was continental drift, or what we call plate tectonics today, the idea that a thin outer shell surrounds the earth and fits together like giant puzzle pieces, and when the pieces slip past one another an earthquake is created. Many American scientists thought this idea was ridiculous. The second theory was that undersea earthquakes and tsunamis were connected somehow."

Twenty years later, an earthquake shook the Aleutian Islands off the Alaskan coast and a lighthouse and its crew of five disappeared. Travel- ling at 500 miles an hour, tsunami waves reached Hawaii after a few hours. "Early in the morning the storekeepers, fishermen, and children of Hilo Bay witnessed a bizarre sight. The huge bay was dried up! Men who worked on the docks loading sugar ran into the bay to grab the stranded fish flopping around."

The tsunami "claimed 159 lives and caused $25 million in damage." The Seismic Sea Wave Warning System was in place two years later, but it wasnít until 1957, when "a powerful earthquake sent shock waves to seismic stations around the world," that the system was put to the test. "Undersea earthquakes do not always create tsunamis, and false alarms are extremely costly," but people were ordered away from the water and ships sent out to sea. The waves caused $3 million in damage, but this time, not one life was lost.

If you think of the Pacific Rim as your neighborhood, youíll agree we owe the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, which was known as the Coast and Geodetic Survey back in 1925, a great debt of gratitude for keeping us safe. And bravo to Tsunami Warning author Taylor Morrison for bringing this to our attention in such a compelling way.

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