Although infrequent, tsunamis are among the most terrifying and complex physical phenomena and have been responsible for great loss of life and extensive damage. Because of their destructiveness, tsunamis have important impacts on the human, social, and economic sectors of societies. Over the past 3500 years, there have been 279 fatal tsunamis and more than 600,000 deaths. The worst catastrophe in history was the 26 December 2004 Sumatra, Indonesia tsunami that killed 228,000 people in 12 Indian Ocean countries and caused $10 billion in damage. The Pacific Ocean, however, is where 75% of the world’s tsunamis occur. 99% of the deaths were caused by local tsunamis, which are those hit in less than 1 hour tsunami travel time. Since 80% of the tsunamis are generated by shallow great earthquakes, shaking and damage from the earthquake is the 1st hazard to address before the tsunami arrives.

In Japan, which has one of the most populated coastal regions in the world and a long history of earthquake activity, tsunamis have destroyed entire coastal populations. There is also a history of severe tsunami destruction in Alaska, the Hawaiian Islands, Indonesia, and South America.The last major Pacific-wide tsunami was the 11 March 2011 Japan tsunami which killed more than 18,000 in Japan and 2 persons in the far field.