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For the 6.9 MW earthquake of March 2010, see March 2010 Chile earthquake.
2010 Chile earthquake
Collapsed building in Concepción
Epicenter of the 2010 Chile earthquake
Date 03:34:14, 27 February 2010 (UTC-3) (2010-02-27T03:34:14UTC-3)
Magnitude 8.8 Mw
Depth 35 kilometres (22 mi)
Epicenter location 35°54′32″S 72°43′59″W / 35.909°S 72.733°W / -35.909; -72.733Coordinates: 35°54′32″S 72°43′59″W / 35.909°S 72.733°W / -35.909; -72.733
Countries or regions affected Chile, Maule Region, Biobío Region
Max. intensity MM VIII[1]
Tsunami Widespread warnings for most of the Pacific coasts.[2]
Casualties 497 identified fatalities.[3]

The 2010 Chilean earthquake occurred off the coast of the Maule Region of Chile[4] on February 27, 2010, at 03:34 local time (06:34 UTC), rating a magnitude of 8.8 on the moment magnitude scale and lasting 90 seconds.[5][6] It was strongly perceived in six Chilean regions (from Valparaíso Region in the north to Araucanía Region in the south), that together make up 80% of the country's population. The cities experiencing the strongest shaking—VIII (Destructive) on the Mercalli intensity scale—were Arauco and Coronel, Chile.[1] The earthquake was felt in the capital Santiago at Mercalli intensity scale VII (Very Strong).[7] Tremors were felt in many Argentine cities, including Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Mendoza and La Rioja.[8][9] Tremors were felt as far north as the city of Ica in southern Peru.[10] The earthquake triggered a tsunami which devastated several coastal towns in south-central Chile and damaged the port at Talcahuano. Tsunami warnings were issued in 53 countries,[7] causing minor damage in the San Diego area of California.[11] The earthquake also generated a blackout that affected 93% of the country's population and which went on for several days in some locations.[12] President Michelle Bachelet declared a "state of catastrophe". She also confirmed the deaths of at least 723 people,[13] although later reports from Chilean officials reduced the estimated death toll to 497.[3] Many more have been reported missing.[14][15][16]

Seismologists estimate that the earthquake was so powerful that it may have shortened the length of the day by 1.26 microseconds and moved the Earth's figure axis by 8 cm or 2.7 milliarcseconds.[17][18] It also moved the entire city of Concepción 3.04 metres (10 ft) to the west. The capital Santiago, moved almost 24 centimetres (10 in) west, and even Buenos Aires, about 1,350 kilometres (840 mi) from Concepción,[19] shifted 3.9 centimetres (1.5 in).[20][21]

The epicenter of the earthquake was offshore from the Maule Region, approximately 11 km (6.8 miles) southwest of Curanipe and 100 km (71 mi) north-northeast of Chile's second largest city, Concepción.[22][23] The earthquake also caused seiches to occur in Lake Pontchartrain to the north of New Orleans, United States, located nearly 7,500 kilometres (4,700 mi) from the epicenter of the quake.[24]



The Nazca Plate is subducting under the South American Plate. This movement causes seismicity and volcanism throughout Chile.

The earthquake took place along the boundary between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates, at a location where they converge at a rate of eighty millimeters (about three inches) a year. This earthquake was characterized by a thrust-faulting focal mechanism, caused by the subduction of the Nazca plate beneath the South American.[22]

Chile has been at a convergent plate boundary that generates megathrust earthquakes since the Paleozoic (500 million years ago). In historical times the Chilean coast has suffered many megathrust earthquakes along this plate boundary, including the strongest earthquake ever measured, which is the 1960 Valdivia earthquake. Most recently, the boundary ruptured in 2007 causing the 2007 Antofagasta earthquake in northern Chile.

The segment of the fault zone which ruptured in this earthquake was estimated to be over 700 km (430 mi) long with a displacement of almost 10 meters.[25] It lay immediately north of the 1,000 km (620 mi) segment which ruptured in the great earthquake of 1960.[26] Preliminary measurements show that the entire South American Plate moved abruptly westward during the quake.[27] A research collaborative of Ohio State and other institutions have found, using GPS, that the earthquake shifted Santiago 11 inches (28 cm) to the west-southwest and moved Concepción at least 10 feet (at least 3 meters) to the west. The earthquake also shifted other parts of South America from the Falkland Islands to Fortaleza, Brazil. For example, it moved Argentina’s capital of Buenos Aires about one inch (2.5 cm) to the west.[28]


Compared to past earthquakes

This was the strongest earthquake affecting Chile since the magnitude 9.5 1960 Valdivia earthquake (the most energetic earthquake ever measured in the world), and it is the strongest earthquake worldwide since the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.[29] It is tied with the 1906 Ecuador-Colombia and 1833 Sumatra earthquakes as the seventh strongest earthquake ever measured, five hundred times more forceful than the 7.0 Mw earthquake in Haiti in January of 2010.[30]


An aftershock of 6.2 was recorded 20 minutes after the initial quake.[31][32] Two more aftershocks of magnitudes 5.4 and 5.6 followed within an hour of the initial quake.[32] The USGS said that "a large vigorous aftershock sequence can be expected from this earthquake".[22] By March 6 UTC, more than 130 aftershocks had been registered, including thirteen above magnitude 6.0.[33]

A 6.9-magnitude offshore earthquake struck approximately 300 kilometers southwest of, and less than 90 minutes after, the initial shock; however, it is not clear if that quake is related to the main shock.[34] A separate earthquake of magnitude 6.3 occurred in Salta, Argentina, at 15:45 UTC on February 27, at a depth of 38.2 km (23.7 mi);[35] two people were injured and one died in Salta.[36] This earthquake was followed on March 1, at 06:32 UTC by a magnitude 4.9 aftershock.[37] Four other earthquakes above M5.0, some possible aftershocks, also occurred near the border in Argentina following the Chile earthquake; a magnitude 5.0 earthquake occurred in Mendoza on February 28, a M5.3 earthquake in Neuquen and a M5.2 in San Juan on March 2, and a M5.1 quake in Mendoza on March 4.[38][39][40][41]

Another strong earthquake occurred on March 4, at 22:39 UTC in Antofagasta in northern Chile, with a magnitude of 6.3.[42]

Minor quakes generated by the main one could be felt as far away as São Paulo, Brazil,[43] located about 3,000 km (1,900 mi) away from Concepción. Since the major earthquake, and as of March 15, at least four to forty >M5.0 earthquakes have been recorded daily in the vicinity of the main earthquake,[44] including four above magnitude 6.0 between March 3 and 00:00 UTC March 6.[32]

On March 5, two aftershocks above M6.0 were reported. The first was a 6.3-magnitude off the coast of the Bio-Bio region. The second was near the epicenter of the original quake at 08:47 local time with a magnitude of 6.6.[45]

On March 11, the March 2010 Chile earthquake (strength 6.9, treated by some as an aftershock of the February 2010 earthquake) was reported, followed quickly by further aftershocks measuring 6.7 and 6.0. The epicenter of the 6.9 quake was in Pichilemu, O'higgins Region.[46][47]

On March 15, two aftershocks of the February 2010 earthquake were reported, one at magnitude 6.1 at 08:08:28 AM local time offshore Maule[48], and another at magnitude 6.7 with the epicenter located offshore the Bío-Bío Region, near Cobquecura, at 11:21:58 PM local time.[49] This tremor was followed by two minor aftershock, one occurring 45 minutes later, measuring M5.5. No tsunami was reported and there were no tsunami warnings issued.

On March 17, at 02:38:37 PM local time, an earthquake of magnitude 5.2 was recorded in Aisén, in Southern Chile.[50]

Damage and casualties

A severely damaged building in Maipú, Santiago.

According to an Associated Press Television News cameraman, some buildings collapsed in Santiago and there were power outages in parts of the city.[51] A fire was reported in a chemical plant in an outskirt of Santiago and caused the evacuation of the neighborhood.[31] Santiago's International Airport seems to have been damaged and the airport authority has closed off all flight operations for the next 24 hours from around 12:00 UTC.[4] On Sunday, February 28, Ricardo Ortega, head of the Chilean Air Force, said commercial airline service had been partially re-established and aircraft were being allowed to land in Santiago.[52]

Santiago's national Fine Arts Museum was badly damaged and did not reopen until 9 March 2010.[53] An apartment building's two-story parking lot collapsed, wrecking about 50 cars. According to one health official, three hospitals in Santiago collapsed, and a dozen more south of the capital also suffered significant damage.[54]

Collapsed Vespucio Norte Express Highway in Santiago.

In Valparaíso, a tsunami wave of 1.29 m was reported. The port of Valparaíso was ordered to be closed due to the damage caused by the earthquake. The port started to resume limited operations on February 28.[55] In Viña del Mar, a touristic city and part of Greater Valparaíso, several buildings were structurally damaged, principally in the district Plan de Viña.[56]

Many cities in Maule region were seriously affected by the earthquake. Curanipe, only 8 km (5 mi) from the epicenter, was hit by a tsunami after the earthquake and still remained isolated from outside as of February 28.[57] A surfer said the tsunami "...was like the one in Thailand, a sudden rise of water. One could not estimate the dimension of the wave, because it was advancing foam. There were 10 to 15 rises, the last one being at 08:30 in the morning."[58] In Talca, the capital of Maule region, many dead were trapped in the rubble. The administrative building was uninhabitable, and the authorities had to be set up in the parade ground.[59] All but two of the local hospital’s thirteen wings were in ruins. Dr. Claudio Martínez was quoted as saying, “We’re only keeping the people in danger of dying.” Hospital staff attempted to transport some patients to Santiago on Sunday morning, but roads were blocked.[60]

USGS shake map of the earthquake

Damaged buildings and fires were reported in Concepción.[61] Rescue teams had difficulty accessing Concepción because of the damaged infrastructure.[31] The fifteen-story residential building "Alto Río" fell backwards, horizontally lay on the ground, and trapped many of the residents. As the building was newly completed, 19 of the apartments were occupied and 36 were unknown if there were habitants therein.[62][63][64] A 2.34 m (7.68 ft) tsunami wave hit Talcahuano, a port city and part of the Concepción conurbation. The tsunami caused serious damage to port facilities and lifted boats out of the water.[65] In the fishing town of Dichato, which has 7,000 residents, it was the third tsunami wave that ended up being the most damaging.[66]

Dilapidated buildings could be seen on the streets of Temuco, about 400 km (250 mi) from the epicenter. The adobe of some buildings fell. Façades fell in pieces and crushed cars. Two people were reported dead because of not having been able to escape from a discothèque. On February 27, it was reported that "to find a business open is almost impossible" ("Encontrar un negocio abierto es casi imposible").[67][68]

In Chile, at least 500,000 homes are estimated to be damaged.[69] At least 723 people were reported killed, although later reports from Chilean officials indicated that the death toll was significantly overestimated, with the actual identified death toll being 497 as of March 8, 2010.[3]

The Chilean National Emergency Office (Oficina Nacional de Emergencia) estimated that the intensity of the earthquake was 9 on the Mercalli scale in the Biobío Region and 8 in Santiago.[31][70] USGS put the intensity in Talcahuano at MM VIII, in Santiago and Concepción at MM VII and in Valparaíso at MM VI.[1]

On March 10, Swiss Reinsurance Co. estimated that the Chilean quake would cost the insurance industry between 4 and 7 billion dollars. And this is the same estimate made by the rival German-based Munich Re AG.[71]

Humanitarian response

Despite President Michelle Bachelet's earlier statement that (until the moment) Chile did not need international aid,[72] leaders of many countries and intergovernmental organizations, including the United Nations and European Union, responded to the earthquake and sent messages of condolence to the government and people of Chile over the loss of lives and property. Argentina, the United States, United Kingdom, People's Republic of China, Singapore, Haiti, and Pakistan were among the countries that responded earliest following the quake.[73][74] Appeals for humanitarian aid were issued by the UK-based Oxfam, Save the Children and others.

Chilean television host Don Francisco led a telethon called Chile helps Chile with the goal to raise 15 billion pesos (about US$29 million) to build 30000 emergency houses. The charity event, which run for 24 hours in Santiago starting Friday March 5 at 22:00, was summoned by the government and organized by several Chilean NGOs. At 23:00 on Saturday the goal was doubled, collecting 30.2 billion pesos (about US$58 million).[75]

Conditions in the aftermath

Chaos and disorder

Kiosks destroyed by the tsunami in Pichilemu.

Nearly half the places in the country were declared "catastrophe zones", and curfews were imposed in some areas of looting and public disorder.[76] On February 28, 2010, a day after the earthquake, some affected cities were chaotic, with extensive looting of supermarkets in Concepción. Items stolen included not only food and other necessities, but also electronic goods and other durable merchandise. To control vandalism, a special force of carabineros (the "GOPE") was sent to disperse rioters with tear gas and water cannons.[77] However, despite these and other government acts (including the curfews), pillaging continued in both urban and rural areas of the affected zones.[78] Reportedly, military police arrested 160 in Concepción on March 1 and 2.[79]

The damaged Museum of Contemporary Art

On March 1, 2010, pillaging of supermarkets in Concepción and in some districts of Santiago continued. In Santiago, the police were forced to shoot into the air in order to disperse mobs which, again, were stealing both necessities such as food and water and durable goods such as electronic devices and home appliances).[78] In Concepción, despite the militarization of the zone, mobs continued to steal from supermarkets and went as far as to set one store ablaze.[80] The government warned looters they would face the full weight of the law, as penalties for stealing are increased under a state of catastrophe. A week after the quake the police —tipped by neighbors— arrested three people with massive quantities of looted goods stashed in their homes. Other looted goods such as mattresses, furniture, television sets and other electronic appliances were abandoned in the streets of Concepción during the following days.[81]

According to the BBC on March 5, the city and fishing port of Talcahuano, which lies but a few kilometers down the coast from Concepción, has been left largely to fend for itself. Neighborhood vigilante groups, including one led by a public works employee with a gun license, and the few police present allow such behavior as residents' siphoning fuel from tanks at a petrol station, but step in if someone starts to attack a cash machine. One man stated, "I've personally saved dozens of people from attack in this apartment block."[82]

Chileans living in regions not affected by the earthquake (including those living abroad) also grieved, as they sought to learn more regarding kinsmen and friends affected by the earthquake. In the hardest-hit zones there was no communication with the exterior because of the failure of electricity and the destruction of telephone lines.[78]

Prison escape and riots

In the prison of El Manzano in Concepción, a prison riot began after a failed escape attempt by the inmates. Different parts of the prison were set afire and the riot was brought under control only after the guards shot into the air and received help from military units.[83]

By March 1, prison guards in Chillán had recaptured 36 of 203 prisoners who had escaped following the earthquake. During their escape, prisoners burned seven houses close to the prison. A witness in Chillán asserted that he had been robbed by prisoners with a machine gun who had also forced his girlfriend to kiss them. Another witness alleged sexual molestation by around twenty men who were believed to be escaped prisoners. The leading Chilean newspaper El Mercurio described the situation in Chillán as reminiscent of the "Wild West".[83]

Government response

Four hours after the earthquake, when the death count was still low, President Bachelet provided a press conference in which she informed the population of the situation and stated that Chile did not yet need international aid.[72] However, about two million people have been affected by the quake with more than 500,000 houses completely damaged. In many cities, people slept in tents in parks or simply on streets, for fear of aftershocks. The government was prepared to begin distributing food and other vital aid around the country.[84]

On February 28, President Bachelet stated that her government had reached an agreement with the major supermarkets that would allow them to give away stocked basic foodstuffs to people affected by the earthquake.[85] As of February 28, the Santiago Metro rapid-transit network was already partially available and was expected to be fully operative on the following day, March 1.[86]

On March 4, President-elect Sebastián Piñera, who assumes office on March 11, was quoted as saying that his goals are "to cope with the emergency needs of citizens, find people who are still missing, provide prompt and timely assistance to the sick and wounded, and restore law and order so that people can return to peace."[87]

Economic recovery

Authorities of the central port city of San Antonio speaking on March 3, 2010, stated that the port had returned to eighty percent of capacity. On the same date, Raul Maturana, a spokesman for the Federation of Port Workers' union, stated that the port of Valparaíso was operating normally. However, ports in southern Chile, which were closer to the epicenter, remained closed.[88]

On March 4, President Bachelet said that Chile would need international loans and three to four years to rebuild.[89]


A tsunami warning was first declared for Chile and Peru,[90] and a tsunami watch for Ecuador, Colombia, Antarctica, Panama and Costa Rica.[91][92] The warning was later extended to a Pacific Ocean-wide warning, covering all coastal areas on the Pacific Ocean except the west coast of the United States, British Columbia, and Alaska.[93] Hawaiian media reported that tsunami warning sirens first sounded at 06:00 local time.[94] The U.S. Tsunami Warning Center issued advisories about potential tidal waves of less than 1 m (3 ft 3 in) striking the Pacific Ocean coastline between California and most of Alaska late in the afternoon or through the evening 12 or more hours after the initial earthquake.[95] Although the earthquake killed far fewer people than the Haitian earthquake less than 7 weeks prior, it was still devastating. The tsunami warning was cancelled for all countries except Japan and Russia in PTWC Bulletin 18 of 00:12 UTC on 28 February 2010.[96]

In general, tsunamis tend to come in several waves, of which the first may not be the highest.[97][98]

The tsunami's passage as recorded by National Data Buoy Center Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) buoy 34142, located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean 630 nautical miles (1170 km) southwest of Lima, Peru.

The U.S. National Weather Service's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning throughout a huge swathe of the Pacific region, including Antarctica.[99] In the Americas, the warning extends to Chile (including Easter Island), Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Panama.[99] A warning was also issued for the Oceania and Pacific Islands nations and territories of American Samoa, Australia, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia (including the FSM states of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap), Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Jarvis Island, Johnston Island, the Kermadec Islands, Kiribati, Marcus Island, the Marshall Islands, Midway Island, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna and Wake Island.[99] Tsunami warnings are also in effect as far away as East and Southeast Asia including Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Russia and Taiwan.[99]

Coastal areas of Canada's westernmost province British Columbia was under a tsunami advisory.[100] No large wave was expected to strike British Columbia, but strong local ocean currents combined with a wave put low-lying coastal regions at risk of flooding.[100] The first wave was expected to reach southern British Columbia at 15:11  local time.[100] Residents were advised to avoid beaches, harbours and marinas.[101]

A tsunami advisory was also issued for coastal areas of California, Oregon, Washington and southern Alaska in the United States.[102] This tsunami advisory was canceled as of 07:13 UTD on February 28.[103]

Russian authorities lifted a tsunami alert for the Kamchatka coast, after the arrival of a 0.8 m (2.6 ft) surge that caused no damage.[104] The tsunami was also reported to be small along the Japanese coast, and passed without incident. Many coastal areas in Japan had been evacuated as a precaution.[105]

The projections use DART (Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis) gauges spread along the sea floor, which is a fairly new technology. Initial deep sea readings showed wave height of 25 centimeters, which is huge for deep water according to Gerard Fryer of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. He went on to say, “although it was huge, we didn't quite know what it meant because we haven't much experience with those. As we get more under our belts, we'll get better."[106]


Agustín Ross' Mirador after the earthquake and tsunami in Pichilemu.

Some 30 minutes after the first shock, consecutive tsunami waves hit coastal towns, among which Constitución suffered the hardest damage;[107] subsequently, a tsunami amplitude of up to 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) high was recorded in the sea at Valparaíso.[31][108][109] A wave amplitude of 2.34 m (7.68 ft) was recorded at Talcahuano in the Biobío Region.[2] Robinson Crusoe Island, the largest of the Juan Fernández Islands, was struck by a large wave led to the deaths of four people on the island, with eleven people reported as missing, according to Provincial Governor Ivan De La Maza. President Bachelet is reported to have sent an aid mission to the remote island.[110][111]

As a precaution against the coming tsunami, partial evacuation was ordered in Easter Island, about 3,510 km (2,180 mi) away from the coast of Chile. The tsunami wave arrived in Easter Island at 12:05 UTC, measuring 0.35 m (1.15 ft).[112][113]

On 27 February, defense minister Francisco Vidal said that the Chilean Navy had made a mistake by not immediately issuing a tsunami warning after the earthquake, a step that could have helped coastal villagers flee to higher ground sooner. However, an alarm was later sounded by port captains and saved some lives.[114] The head of Chile's oceanographic service, which is part of the country's navy, was later fired for the organization's failure to provide clear warnings about the tsunami.[115]


New Zealand

Initially, the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) said they did not expect a tsunami to reach New Zealand,[116] but later issued a warning stating that waves of up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) high were likely for the eastern[117] and later the entire New Zealand coast.[118] By 19:55 UTC (08:40 local), Civil Defence reported wave activity of 50 cm (1.6 ft) in the Chatham Islands,[119] and 2 m (6 ft 7 in) surges were reported there later in the morning.[120] A surge 2.2 m (7 ft 3 in) high hit the South Island's Banks Peninsula,[118][121] while surges up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) high were reported in the northern North Island.[122] By mid afternoon (local time), Civil Defence had downgraded the tsunami warning to an alert, while still advising that sea levels could change quickly for up to 24 hours from the initial surge.[123]


The U.S. Antarctic Program's coastal station along the Antarctic Peninsula, Palmer Station, went on a tsunami alert shortly after the earthquake struck Chile. To prepare for a possible tsunami, station personnel removed all Zodiac boats from the water and moved any materials from low-lying areas that waves could have swept away. Personnel also retreated to the station’s highest building, GWR, while the tsunami warning was in effect, Ellis said. Palmer personnel developed a tsunami emergency plan following the 2004 earthquake in the Indian Ocean that created a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in 14 countries. While no noticeable tsunami occurred at Palmer, the station tide monitor displayed bumps of several centimeters, signifying that a small wave had indeed reached the shores of Anvers Island.[124]


The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Center (JATWC) sent out tsunami warnings for New South Wales, Queensland, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, Tasmania, and Victoria. The organization warned of the possibility of dangerous waves, strong ocean currents and foreshore flooding to occur on the east coast of Australia for several hours on Sunday.[125] As a result of the warnings, patrolled beaches in New South Wales and Queensland remained closed (red flags) and lifeguards ushered people to leave the water. However beach goers and surfers ignored the warnings. Numerous onlookers also crowded parts of the shore to view potential effects of the tsunami.[126] The beach ban was lifted by the end of the day and there was no reports of damage, flooding or other emergencies. Tsunami waves of between 10 cm and 50 cm were recorded and their surges were believed to have created strong currents. Increases in sea levels include: Norfolk Island 50 cm, Gold Coast (Qld) 20 cm, Port Kembla (NSW) 14 cm, Southport (Tas) 17 cm.[126]

French Polynesia

A wave measuring up to 6 ft (1.8 m) high struck portions of French Polynesia between 15:50 to 17:50 UTC with no reports of injuries as of February 28, 2010 (2010 -02-28).[127] A wave 4 meters high is reported to have struck Hiva Oa in the Marquesas Islands.[128] The first waves were expected to hit the main island of Tahiti at approximately 16:50 UTC (07:50 local).[129] Cars and other automobiles were banned from roads closer than 500 m (1,600 ft) from the Pacific Ocean.[129]

Réseau France Outre-mer in Papeete reported that a wave measuring less than 1 m (3 ft 3 in) passed east of the Gambier Islands with no damage, according to Monique Richeton, the mayor of Rikitea.[127][129] Residents of the Tuamotus, which are low-lying, were told to move to the highest points on the island.[129]

American Samoa

The first wave was expected to reach American Samoa, which is still recovering from the 2009 Samoa earthquake and tsunami, at 08:51 local time.[129] Lieutenant Governor Ipulasi Aitofele Sunia urged residents not to rush to A'oloau, a high elevation area on Tutuila, as it could cause traffic jams, putting safety at risk.[129] Many coastal towns, including the main city of Pago Pago, had already been heavily damaged in the 2009 tsunami. The first wave arrived on Pago Plaza at 21:58 UTC.


The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) issued an advisory that tsunami wave(s) were expected to hit the eastern coast of the Philippines on Sunday between 05:00 and 06:30 UTC (13:00 and 14:30 local). Residents of 19 eastern provinces "are advised to prepare for possible evacuation."[130] However, at 15:15 on February 28, 2010, all warnings have been cancelled.[131]


United States Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka issued a joint press release announcing the first tsunami evacuation in Hawaii since 1994.[132][133] Warning sirens were sounded throughout the state, as hotels in Waikiki evacuated tourists at 6 a.m. People in tall buildings were encouraged to move above the third floor. Waves measuring nine feet high were originally predicted to strike Hilo Bay on the Big Island of Hawai'i at 11:05 local time (21:05 GMT),[134] but by 11:18, major receding and waves had not been reported on the shoreline. By 11:40, several waves hit the islands amounting to raising and lowering of the sea near the coast, and a fourth wave hit around 13:12. The tsunami warning for Hawaii was canceled in the early afternoon on Saturday, February 27.

Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center was quoted as saying: “We expected the waves to be bigger in Hawaii, maybe about 50 percent bigger than they actually were."[135] Early in the morning, the Center expected waves of 10 feet. In actuality, the highest tsunami waves ended up being about 5 to 6 feet peak to trough.[106]

North America

British Columbia

At around 23:00 UTC (15:00 local), a tsunami warning was issued for coastal British Columbia. Extra precautions were already in place due to the 2010 Winter Olympics being held in Vancouver at the time.[136]


Small waves were expected in California, and receding was reported at Long Beach. Minor damage was reported on some coastal areas. The tsunami damaged navigation buoys at Ventura.[137] Additionally, a boat was torn loose from its mooring and minor erosion occurred within Ventura Harbor. Damage to docks and pilings in the area was moderate.[138]


In Guerrero, surges of between 30 cm and 1 meter and receding of up to 10 m were reported, and three small vessels were sunk at Tecpán de Galeana. The state tourism authorities announced they would be sending a letter to the CNN news network to protest the "alarming" way in which it had forecast a tsunami for the major tourist destination of Acapulco.[139]

Tsunami-related aid given

Argentina has sent construction teams to Chiloé Island to help reconstruct some of the washed away coastal buildings.


The following data, published by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, lists measured and reported values of the tsunami when it arrived at specific places.

Tsunami arrival data[2][140][141]
Station Country or territory Latitude Longitude Time (UTC) Height (m) Height (ft)
Talcahuano  Chile 36.7 S 73.4 W 06:53 27 Feb 2.34 7.7
Valparaíso  Chile 33 S 71.6 W 07:08 1.29 4.2
Corral  Chile 39.9 S 73.4 W 07:39 0.90 2.9
San Felix  Chile 26.3 S 80.1 W 08:15 0.53 1.7
Caldera  Chile 27.1 S 70.8 W 08:34 0.45 1.5
Ancud  Chile 41.9 S 73.8 W 08:38 0.62 2.0
Coquimbo  Chile 30 S 71.3 W 08:52 1.32 4.3
Iquique  Chile 20.2 S 70.1 W 09:07 0.28 0.9
DART Lima  Peru 18 S 86.4 W 09:41 0.24 0.8
Antofagasta  Chile 23.2 S 70.4 W 09:41 0.49 1.6
Arica  Chile 18.5 S 70.3 W 10:08 0.94 3.1
Callao  Peru 12.1 S 77.2 W 10:29 0.36 1.2
Easter Island  Chile 27.2 S 109.5 W 12:05 0.35 1.1
Quepos  Costa Rica 14:16 0.24 0.8
Galapagos Islands  Ecuador 0.4 S 90.3 W 14:52 0.35 1.2
DART Marquesas Islands  French Polynesia 8.5 S 125 W 15:31 0.18 0.6
Rikitea  French Polynesia 23.1 S 134.9 W 15:59 0.15 0.5
DART Manzanillo 16.0 N 107 W 16:11 0.07 0.2
Manzanillo  Mexico 19.1 N 104.3 W 17:05 0.32 1.0
Hiva Oa  French Polynesia 9.8 N 139.0 W 17:41 1.79 5.9
Nuku Hiva  French Polynesia 8.9 S 140.1 W 17:45 0.95 3.1
Papeete  French Polynesia 17.5 N 149.6 W 18:10 0.16 0.5
Cabo San Lucas  Mexico 22.9 N 109.9 W 18:33 0.36 1.2
Rarotonga  Cook Islands 21.2 S 159.8 W 19:07 0.15 0.5
Acapulco  Mexico 16.8 N 99.9 W 19:31 0.62 2.0
DART San Diego 32.2 N 120.7 W 19:31 0.06 0.2
Lottin Point  New Zealand 37.6 S 178.2 E 19:34 0.15 0.5
DART Tonga 23 S 168.1 W 20:03 0.04 0.1
Apia  Samoa 13.8 S 171.8 W 20:18 0.13 0.4
Nukualofa  Tonga 21.1 S 175.2 W 20:24 0.1 0.3
Pago Pago  American Samoa 14.3 S 170.7 W 20:27 0.22 0.7
Monterey, California  United States 36.6 N 121.9 W 20:31 0.28 1.1
San Diego, California  United States 32.7 N 117.2 W 20:36 0.13 0.4
San Francisco, California  United States 37.8 N 122.5 W 21:20 0.26 0.8
Hilo, Hawaii  United States 19.7 N 154.9 W 21:20 0.86 2.8
Kuamalapau, Hawaii  United States 20.8 N 156.9 W 21:36 0.18 0.6
Kahului, Hawaii  United States 20.9 N 156.5 W 21:47 0.98 3.2
Santa Barbara, California  United States 34.4 N 119.7 W 21:50 0.53 1.7
Barber's Point, Hawaii  United States 21.3 N 158.1 W 21:57 0.12 0.4
Honolulu, Hawaii  United States 21.3 N 150.4 W 22:00 0.25 0.8
Kawaihae, Hawaii  United States 20 N 155.5 W 22:11 0.52 1.7
Crescent City, California  United States 41.7 N 124.2 W 22:13 0.37 1.2
Vanuatu  Vanuatu 17.8 S 168.3 E 22:46 0.15 0.5
Johnston Atoll  United States 16.7 N 169.5 W 22:48 0.22 0.7
Nawiliwili, Hawaii  United States 22 N 159.4 W 23:23 0.37 1.2
Sitka, Alaska  United States 57.1 N 135.3 W 00:11 28 Feb 0.08 0.3
Guam Guam Guam 13.4 N 144.7 E 03:07 0.16 0.5
Minamitorishima[142]  Japan 24.1N 153.5E 03:43 0.1 0.3
DART Saipan 19.1 N 155.8 E 03:55 0.08 0.3
Otsuchi, Iwate[citation needed]  Japan 39.21 N 141.54 E 06:43 1.45 4.35
Yamada, Iwate[citation needed]  Japan 39.47 N 141.95 E 08:14 1.61 4.85
Hachinohe, Aomori[citation needed]  Japan 40.30 N 141.29 E 08:44 0.9 2.7
Nemuro, Hokkaido[citation needed]  Japan 43.20 N 145.35 E 09:23 1.0 3.0
Kuji, Iwate[citation needed]  Japan 40.11 N 141.46 E 10:01 1.2 3.6
Susaki, Kochi[citation needed]  Japan 33.24 N 133.17 E 10:42 1.2 3.6
Shibushi, Kagoshima[citation needed]  Japan 31.30 N 131.03 E 10:56 1.0 3.0
Tsunami ETA NOAA (hour 0=06:34 UTC Feb 27)  
The energy model map of the tsunami.  
Countries with coastal areas that were at risk (in pink).  

See also


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External links


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