Amateur Video Tsunami Detection

Analyzing tsunamis is no easy task, especially since on-the-ground data is sparse, and the reports by surviving witnesses of such traumatic events are clouded by error. However, with many people now owning a mobile device capable of taking video footage, tsunamis can be modelled more accurately. This can deepen our understanding of how tsunamis can behave once they reach land. The idea for applying citizen science to model tsunamis was first proposed by a Dr. Hermann Fritz, a professor of Ocean Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In the early 2000s, Fritz visited sites devastated by tsunamis, starting in 2004 with the Indian Ocean Tsunami, which killed nearly 230,000 people and displaced about 1.7 million. Fritz and his colleagues collected video footage taken by citizens. They then developed computer vision software capable of scanning the videos to see how quickly the water traveled and how high the inland flooding was. Fritz also collected photos of “weird” or unusual waves along the shoreline. By incorporating analyses of these wave patterns into the tsunami dataset, Fritz and his team developed a model that can better predict the scope of impacts of future tsunamis. 


Dickie, Gloria. (2019, Sept. 24). “How Amateur Video Is Helping Us Understand Deadly Tsunamis.” Wired.; Fritz, Hermann M., Jose C. Borrero, Costas E. Synolakis, and Jeseon Yoo. “2004 Indian Ocean tsunami flow velocity measurements from survivor videos.” Geophysical Research Letters 33, no. 24 (2006).



Citizen Science, Data, Ecological Modelling, Ecological Monitoring, Lifestyle, Monitoring, Visual Technologies