Ten years on, the Indian Ocean tsunami of 26 December 2004 still looms large in efforts to reduce coastal risk. The disaster has spurred worldwide advances in tsunami detection and warning, tsunami-risk assessment, and tsunami awareness [Satake, 2014].
Nearly a lifetime has passed since the northwestern Indian Ocean last produced a devastating tsunami. Documentation of this tsunami, in November 1945, was hindered by international instability in the wake of the Second World War and, in British India, by the approach of independence and partition. The parent earthquake, of magnitude 8.1, was widely recorded, and the tsunami registered on tide gauges, but intelligence reports and newspaper articles say little about inundation limits while permitting a broad range of catalogued death tolls. What has been established about the 1945 tsunami falls short of what's needed today for ground-truthing inundation models, estimating risk to enlarged populations, and anchoring awareness campaigns in local facts.
Recent efforts to reduce coastal risk around the Arabian Sea include a project in which eyewitnesses to the 1945 tsunami were found and interviewed (Fig. 1), and related archives were gathered. Results are being made available through UNESCO's Indian Ocean Tsunami Information Center in hopes of increasing scientific understanding and public awareness of the region's tsunami hazards.