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Student Corner
Fake Tsunami Photographs
Fake Tsunami Photographs

Many people write to us about photos that they've seen on the web and inquire if they are real. If a photograph doesn't come from a reputable source (ex. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, NOAA, etc.), it is most likely a hoax. Some of the photos are real photos, but they are not of a tsunami event. Below you may view some examples of fake tsunami photographs.

fake photo
This photograph appears as an obvious hoax, most likely created with a computer imaging program. World renown tsunami expert, George Curtis, has affirmed that no such event has ever happened. Furthermore, tsunami waves in modern history have not been that high and tsunami waves are unlikely to break as pictured.

fake bore photo
This is an actual photograph, but not of a tsunami. This appears to be a photograph of a bore (a steep, turbulent, rapidly moving wave front that typically occurs in river mouths or estuaries) can and often does occur during tsunami events. This happens when bottom friction slows the advancing wave front, and water piles up behind to produce a nearly vertical bore face.

The photographs below are actual photos but they are also not of a tsunami. These photos are believed to be taken of the Qiantang River, in China. The Quiantang River is famous for its spectacular tidal changes at certain times of the year.

fake wave photo
fake wave photo

To see real tsunami photos please visit the Archives

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Last Revised November 2007