Volcano vs. Tsunami

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Nobody wants to experience a natural disaster, but from far away, some cataclysmic events can look pretty dang cool. When it comes to big geologic spectacles, it’s hard to say which inspires more awe: an erupting volcano or a cascading tsunami. Which would you like to witness most… at a nice safe distance?


  • The name derives from Vulcan, the Roman god of smithing and (what else?) volcanoes themselves. The Aeolian island Vulcano was supposed to be his forge, just as it was one of Hephaistos’ forges for the Greeks.
  • Generally, volcanoes form due to the Earth’s tectonic plates diverging, converging, or possibly moving over plumes of hot mantle.
  • Many shapes and sizes are possible, and you’ll find volcanoes on every continent as well as underwater.
  • The longest single eruption has been happening at Hawaii’s Kīlauea since 1983, but the longest documented on-and-off eruptive activity has been at Vanuatu’s Mount Yasur since about 1902.


  • The name derives from the Japanese word 津波, composed of 津 tsu “harbor” and 波 nami “wave.”
  • Usually you can blame earthquakes and related seismic activity for a tsunami. But it’s also possible for landslides or even weather conditions to create similar phenomena.
  • Sometimes a tsunami can strike without warning, if the first movement of the wave is the huge ridge of water itself. But if the first movement is the wave’s trough, the water will recede from the shore by an incredible distance and provide a sign that you’ve got about 5-6 minutes before that water comes rushing back.

Pick your team; the competition will start at 11 AM EDT on 5/25 and go for 24 hours!

The usual bonuses
Earn 5,000 points – 2,500 bonus
Earn 15,000 points – 5,000 bonus
Earn 25,000 points – 10,000 bonus
For every 25,000 points above 25,000 – 5,000 bonus
Member of winning team (if you’ve scored at least 2,500 points) – 10,000 bonus
Highest scorer on each team – 5,000 bonus
Player with #1 overall score – 10,000 bonus
Player with #2 overall score – 5,000 bonus
Player with #3 overall score – 2,500 bonus

And just to get you in the mood, please enjoy these pictures…

volcano, Hawaii, Eyewire, citizen science
“Pahoehoe” lava erupting in Hawaii. (Photo by J. D. Griggs/US Geological Survey)
volcano, Costa Rica, Eyewire, citizen science
Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. Wow! (Photo by Matthew G. Landry, CC BY-SA 2.5)
tsunami, Hokusai, Eyewire, citizen science
“The Great Wave off Kanegawa” by Hokusai (ca. 1829–1833) may or may not depict a tsunami, but it’s always iconic.
tsunami, gif, Eyewire, citizen science
A gif demonstrating what happens to big waves in shallow waters. (Image by Régis Lachaume, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Artwork by Daniela Gamba

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