Hermann Fritz heard the news on the radio. It was the day after Christmas in 2004, and Fritz, a civil engineer who lived in Georgia, was visiting his parents' home in Zurich, Switzerland, for the holidays. The reporter's voice crackled through the speaker: There had been an earthquake in the Indian Ocean. A tsunami had followed. Thousands of people were presumed dead. Fritz, then 32, was shocked by the human toll. But he also listened with professional interest. He'd recently been hired as a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Savannah, where he studied tsunamis. How Amateur Video Is Helping Us Understand Deadly Tsunamis
Last summer, Hermann Fritz was watching a miniature volcano erupt over and over again. The idea was to generate tsunamis from the eruption or a resulting landslide to see how these rare events differ from their more common earthquake-generated cousins.
Almost 70 years later, the man remembered the August day in Playa Rincon, when he clung to the top of an almond tree to survive a tsunami where the waters rushed about 700 meters inland after a magnitude 8.1 earthquake.
A massive June landslide in Greenland spawned a tsunami that shattered chunks of a glacier and sent water more than 90 meters (300 feet) up the sides of a fjord. That preliminary data comes from Georgia Tech Professor Hermann Fritz and a reconnaissance team that has just returned from a trip to the site of the landslide and tsunami to collect important perishable data about the disaster.
They climbed the Great Wall of China and explored the Forbidden City. They visited a town destroyed by an earthquake then preserved as a monument to the lives lost. They saw baby pandas and flood control systems, Japanese towns devastated by a tsunami and the Hiroshima memorial. But in the end, it was the relationships they built and an overnight summit of Mt. Fuji in Japan that etched this trip into the memories of four engineering students who traveled to China and Japan in early August.
Earthquake and tsunami expert Hermann Fritz traveled to Chile last week after a magnitude 8.4 earthquake off the coast. Fritz, an associate professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, talked with CNN Chile September 19 about the quake's impacts and the country's response.
The day after Christmas in 2004, a massive earthquake shook the ocean floor, sending a tsunami rippling through the Indian Ocean. When that surge reached the shore — from Thailand to Africa — it left more than 250,000 people missing or dead in 12 countries. Millions more lost their homes. Hermann Fritz, a renowned tsunami expert, did extensive research after the disaster, and he recently talked about the event a decade later.