Video: Tsunamis are Terrible, What About Rogue Waves?

Susan Casey explains the mysterious and terrifying phenomenon of rogue waves that roam the ocean 60 feet high or taller.


The tsunami that struck Japan was caused by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake (Japanese authorities have upgraded the magnitude to a 9.0) but that's not the only cause of massive waves. Susan Casey spent three years researching rogue waves, beautiful and deadly misfit giants of the ocean for her book The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean

These are mysterious waves—sometimes of unknown origin—at least 60 feet high and in one case, more than 1,700 feet. Just try to imagine a wave the size of a skyscraper.

She describes that largest wave ever measured around 9:15 into the video. It happened in Alaska in 1958. It's more of a splash than a wave really, it started after ice and rock fell from a cliff into a bay. Casey compares it to "dropping a giant paver into your bathtub." The gripping story of how two boats survived is the most amazing part.

Casey impressively conveys the fascination with these tanker-swallowing waves as she narrates her hunt to find documentation for this terrifying phenomenon.

She calls them "clever oceanic criminals" that steal all the energy of other waves around them to grow several times larger than their neighbors.

Relevant to current events, Casey talks about tsunamis at around 7:00 in the video. "They are a regular feature of the ocean," she says. We can't expect them to stop coming.

Via Pop Tech


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