The Japanese word tsunami, means "harbor wave". The phenomenom creates a series of water waves and is caused by a displacement of a massive amount of water. This massive displacent may cause excessive devastation; and waves of gargantuan proportions.
The 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami caused the death of thousands of people (as of this writing Japan's northeastern Miyagi prefecture say they estimate that the death toll in Miyagi alone will likely exceed 10,000), with waves reaching as high as 7 meters (23 feet), according state broadcaster NHK Television.
Doomsayers and apocalyptic theorists forewarn the next "megatsunami", like the one that began off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia that killed over 230,000 people in fourteen countries, inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 meters (100 feet) high. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.
A megatsunami is defined as a tsunami with waves reaching more than 100 meters (328 feet) in the deep ocean.
The biggest wave on record occurred in Lituya Bay on the southern coast of Alaska in 1958 on July 10. An earthquake of magnitude 7.7, caused the collapse of 300 million cubic meters of rock into the Gilbert Bay. The massive plunge created a wave that removed all vegetation and uprooted and swept away millions of trees from elevations as high as 1720 feet (524 meters) above sea level.
This giant "splash wave" is the highest on record at 524 meters (1720 feet), about 150 meters (500 feet) taller than New York's Empire State Building. Luckily, the only permanent settlement in the epicentral region was Yakutat; therefore death and destruction of man-made buildings was moderate for such a large earthquake. Approximately 5 people died in the awesome natural disaster.
Incredibly, eyewitness Howard G. Ulrich and his 7-year-old son survived while boating in the cove, and explained, "It was not a wave at first. It was like an explosion... The wave came out of the lower part, and looked like the smallest part of the whole thing. The wave did not go up 1,800 feet, the water splashed there."
The giant wave caused massive destruction, including this spruce tree at Harbor Point, mouth of Lituya Bay