The Full Wiki

More info on Historic tsunami

Historic tsunami: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


(Redirected to Historic tsunamis article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A depiction of wave shoaling.

This article lists notable historic tsunamis, which are sorted by the date and location that the tsunami occurred, the earthquake that generated it, or both.

Because of seismic and volcanic activity at tectonic plate boundaries along the Pacific Ring of Fire, tsunamis occur most frequently in the Pacific Ocean, but are worldwide natural phenomena. They are possible wherever large bodies of water are found, including inland lakes, where they can be caused by landslides. Very small tsunamis, non-destructive and undetectable without specialized equipment, occur frequently as a result of minor earthquakes and other events.

As early as 426 BCE, the Greek historian Thucydides inquired in his book History of the Peloponnesian War (3.89.1-6) about the causes of tsunamis. He argued rightly that it could only be explained as a consequence of ocean earthquakes, and could see no other possible causes for the phenomenon.[1]

Crete and the Argolid and other locations were destroyed by a tsunami caused by the eruption of Thira, which destroyed Minoan civilization on Crete and related cultures in the Cyclades and in areas facing the eruption on the Greek mainland such as the Argolid.

During the Persian siege of the sea town Potidaea, Greece, in 479 BCE,[2] the Greek historian Herodotus reports how the Persian attackers who tried to exploit an unusual retreat of the water were suddenly surprised by "a great flood-tide, higher, as the people of the place say, than any one of the many that had been before". Herodotus attributes the cause of the sudden flood to the wrath of Poseidon.[3]


Before 1000 CE


426 BCE: Maliakos Gulf, Greece

In the summer of 426 BCE, a tsunami hit hard the Maliakos bay in Eastern Greece.[4] The Greek historian Thucydides (3.89.1-6) described how the tsunami and a series of earthquakes intervened with the events of the raging Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE) and correlated for the first time in the history of natural science quakes and waves in terms of cause and effect[5].

373 BCE: Helike, Greece

An earthquake and a tsunami destroyed the prosperous Greek city Helike, lying 2 km away from the sea. The fate of the city, which remained permanently submerged, was often commented upon by ancient writers[6] and may have inspired the contemporary Plato to the myth of Atlantis.

365 CE: Alexandria, Eastern Mediterranean

In the morning of July 21, 365 CE, an earthquake of great magnitude caused a huge tsunami more than 100 feet high. It devastated Alexandria and the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, killing thousands and hurling ships nearly two miles inland.[7][8] The Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus (Res Gestae 26.10.15-19) describes in his vivid account the typical sequence of the tsunami including an incipient earthquake, the sudden retreat of the sea and a following gigantic wave:

Slightly after daybreak, and heralded by a thick succession of fiercely shaken thunderbolts, the solidity of the whole earth was made to shake and shudder, and the sea was driven away, its waves were rolled back, and it disappeared, so that the abyss of the depths was uncovered and many-shaped varieties of sea-creatures were seen stuck in the slime; the great wastes of those valleys and mountains, which the very creation had dismissed beneath the vast whirlpools, at that moment, as it was given to be believed, looked up at the sun's rays. Many ships, then, were stranded as if on dry land, and people wandered at will about the paltry remains of the waters to collect fish and the like in their hands; then the roaring sea as if insulted by its repulse rises back in turn, and through the teeming shoals dashed itself violently on islands and extensive tracts of the mainland, and flattened innumerable buildings in towns or wherever they were found. Thus in the raging conflict of the elements, the face of the earth was changed to reveal wondrous sights. For the mass of waters returning when least expected killed many thousands by drowning, and with the tides whipped up to a height as they rushed back, some ships, after the anger of the watery element had grown old, were seen to have sunk, and the bodies of people killed in shipwrecks lay there, faces up or down. Other huge ships, thrust out by the mad blasts, perched on the roofs of houses, as happened at Alexandria, and others were hurled nearly two miles from the shore, like the Laconian vessel near the town of Methone which I saw when I passed by, yawning apart from long decay.[7]

The tsunami in 365 CE was so devastating that the anniversary of the disaster was still commemorated annually at the end of the 6th century in Alexandria as a "day of horror."[9]

Researchers at the University of Cambridge recently carbon dated corals on the coast of Crete which were lifted 10 metres and clear of the water in one massive push. This indicates that the tsunami of 365 CE was generated by an earthquake in a steep fault in the Hellenic trench near Crete. The scientists estimate that such a large uplift is only likely to occur once in 5,000 years, however the other segments of the fault could slip on a similar scale - and could happen every 800 years or so. It is unsure whether "one of the contiguous patches might slip in the future."[10]

684 CE: Hakuho, Japan (白鳳大地震)

Japan is the nation with the most recorded tsunamis in the world.[citation needed] The number of tsunamis in Japan totals 195 over a 1,313 year period (thru 1997), averaging one event every 6.73 years, the highest rate of occurrence in the world.[citation needed]

The Great Hakuho Earthquake was the first recorded tsunami in Japan. It hit in Japan on November 29, 684. It occurred off the shore of the Kii Peninsula, Nankaido, Shikoku, Kii, and Awaji region. It has been estimated to be a magnitude 8.4 [11] It was followed by a huge tsunami, but no estimates on how many deaths.[12]

887 CE: Ninna Nankai, Japan (仁和南海地震)

On August 26 of the Ninna era, there was a strong shock in the Kyoto region, causing great destruction and some victims. At the same time, there was a strong earthquake in Osaka, Shiga, Gifu, and Nagano prefectures. A tsunami flooded the coastal locality, and some people died. The coast of Osaka and primarily Osaka Bay suffered especially heavily from the tsunami. The tsunami was also observed on the coast of Hyuga-Nada.[11]


1293: Kamakura, Japan (鎌倉大地震)

Magnitude 7.1 Quake and tsunami hit Kamakura, Japan's de facto capital, killing 23,000 after resulting fires.

1303: Eastern Mediterranean

A team from Southern Cross University in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia, has found geological evidence of five tsunamis that have hit Greece over the past 2000 years. "Most were small and local, but in 1303 a larger one hit Crete, Rhodes, Alexandria and Acre in Palestine."[13]

1361: Shōhei Nankai, Japan (正平 & 康安)南海地震)

On Aug 3 of the Shōhei era, a 8.4 Nankaido quake and tsunami hit, with 660 deaths, 1700 houses destroyed. There was a strong earthquake in Tokushima, Osaka, Wakayama, and Nara Prefectures and on Awaji Island. A tsunami was observed on the coast of Tokushima and Kochi Prefectures, in Kii Strait and in Osaka Bay.Yunomine Hot Spring (Wakayama Prefecture) stopped. Yukiminato, Awa completely destroyed by tsunami and more than 1,700 houses washed away. 60 persons drowned at Awa.

1498: Meiō Nankai, Japan (明応地震)

Sep 20 7.5 Quake and tsunami hit in the Meiō era. Port in Wakayama damaged by tsunami of several meters in height.s 30-40 thousand deaths estimated [11]

1605: Keichō Nankaido, Japan

On Feb 3 of the Keichō era, a 8.1 Quake and tsunami hit 700 houses (41%) at Hiro, Wakayama Prefecture washed away. 3,600 drowned in Shishikui area. Awa, wave height 6-7m. 350 at Kannoura 60 at Sakihama drowned, wave height 5–6 m and 8–10 m, respectively. Total more than 5,000 drowned. An enormous tsunami with a maximum known rise of water of 30 m was observed on the coast from the Boso Peninsula to the eastern part of Kyushu Island. The eastern part of the Boso Peninsula, the coast of Tokyo Bay, the coast of the prefectures of Kanagawa and Shizouka, and the southeastern coast of Kochi Prefecture suffered especially heavily.[11]

1607: Bristol Channel, Great Britain

On 30 January 1607, approximately 2,000 or more people were drowned, houses and villages swept away and an estimated 200 square miles (518 km2) was inundated. Until the 1990s, it was undisputed that the flooding was caused by a storm surge aggravated by other factors, but recent research indicates a tsunami. The probable cause is postulated as a submarine earthquake off the Irish coast.

1698: Seikaido-Nankaido, Japan

On December 22, 1698, a large tsunami struck Seikaido-Nankaido, Japan.[11]


1700: Vancouver Island, Canada

On January 26, 1700, the Cascadia earthquake, one of the largest earthquakes on record (estimated MW 9 magnitude), ruptured the Cascadia subduction zone (CSZ) offshore from Vancouver Island to northern California, and caused a massive tsunami across the Pacific Northwest logged in Japan and oral traditions of the Native Americans. Brian F. Atwater, Musumi-Rokkaku Satoko, Satake Kenji, Tsuji Yoshinobu, Ueda Kazue, and David K. Yamaguch prepared a "scientific detective story" investigating this tsunami entitled The Orphan Tsunami of 1700—Japanese Clues to a Parent Earthquake in North America. This document is downloadable and available online.

1707: Hōei, Japan (宝永大地震)

On October 28, 1707, during the Hōei era, an 8.4 earthquake and tsunami 25.7-meter-high struck at the Kochi Prefecture. More than 29,000 houses in total wrecked and washed away and about 30,000 deaths. In Tosa, 11,170 houses washed away and 18,441 people drowned. About 700 drowned and 603 houses washed away in Osaka. 20 m high at Tanezaki, Tosa, 6.58 at Muroto. Hot springs at Yunomine, Sanji, Ryujin, Seto-Kanayana (Kii) and Dogo (Iyo,145 days) stopped.[11]

1755: Lisbon, Portugal

Tens of thousands of Portuguese people who survived the Great Lisbon Earthquake on November 1, 1755 were killed by a tsunami which followed 40 minutes later. Many townspeople fled to the waterfront, believing the area safe from fires and from falling debris from aftershocks. When at the waterfront, they saw that the sea was rapidly receding, revealing a sea floor littered with lost cargo and forgotten shipwrecks. The tsunami struck with a maximum height of 50 feet, and went far inland.

The earthquake, tsunami, and many fires killed between 60,000 and 100,000 in Lisbon alone, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. Historical records of explorations by Vasco da Gama and other early navigators were lost, and countless buildings were destroyed (including most examples of Portugal's Manueline architecture). Europeans of the 18th century struggled to understand the disaster within religious and rational belief systems. Philosophers of the Enlightenment, notably Voltaire, wrote about the event. The philosophical concept of the sublime, as described by philosopher Immanuel Kant in the Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime, took inspiration in part from attempts to comprehend the enormity of the Lisbon quake and tsunami.

The tsunami took just over 4 hours to travel over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) to Cornwall in the United Kingdom. An account by Arnold Boscowitz claimed "great loss of life." It also hit Galway in Ireland, and caused some serious damage to the Spanish Arch section of the city wall.

1771: Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa, Japan (八重山地震)

An undersea earthquake of estimated magnitude 7.4 occurred near Yaeyama Islands in Okinawa, Japan on 4 April 1771 at about 8 A.M.. The earthquake is not believed to have directly resulted in any deaths, but a resulting tsunami is thought to have killed about 12,000 people, (9313 on the Yaeyama Islands and 2548 on Miyako Islands according to one source([1]). Estimates of the highest seawater runup on Ishigaki Island, range between 30 meters and 85.4 meters. The tsunami put an abrupt stop to population growth on the islands, and was followed by malaria epidemics and crop failures which decreased the population further. It was to be another 148 years before population returned to its pre-tsunami level. ja:八重山地震

1792: Mount Unzen, Nagasaki Prefecture, Kyūshū, Japan (島原大変肥後迷惑)

Tsunamis were the main cause of death for Japan's worst-ever volcanic disaster, due to an eruption of Mount Unzen in Nagasaki Prefecture, Kyūshū, Japan. It began towards the end of 1791 as a series of earthquakes on the western flank of Mount Unzen which gradually moved towards Fugen-daké, one of Mount Unzen's peaks. In February 1792, Fugen-daké started to erupt, triggering a lava flow which continued for two months. Meanwhile, the earthquakes continued, shifting nearer to the city of Shimabara. On the night of 21 May, two large earthquakes were followed by a collapse of the eastern flank of Mount Unzen's Mayuyama dome, causing an avalanche which swept through Shimabara and into Ariake Bay, triggering a tsunami. It is not known to this day whether the collapse occurred as a result of an eruption of the dome or as a result of the earthquakes. The tsunami struck Higo Province on the other side of Ariake Bay before bouncing back and hitting Shimabara again. Out of an estimated total of 15,000 fatalities, around 5,000 is thought to have been killed by the landslide, around 5,000 by the tsunami across the bay in Higo Province, and a further 5,000 by the tsunami returning to strike Shimabara. The waves reached a height of 330 ft, classing this tsunami as a small megatsunami.


1833: Sumatra, Indonesia

On 25 November 1833, a massive earthquake estimated to have been between 8.7-9.2 on the Ritcher Scale, struck Sumatra in Indonesia. It caused a devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean, which hit hard Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, and several other countries around the Indian Ocean. Sumatra, where the quake's epicentre was, was hardest hit, and was hit by waves up to 30 metres high. 171 years later, the exact same area of the Indian Ocean was hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, which measured more than 9.0 on the Ritcher Scale, and which caused a tsunami killing more than 230,000.

1854: Nankai, Tokai, and Kyushu Japan (安政南海地震)

The Ansei Quake which hit the south coast of Japan, was actually set of 3 quakes, two magnitude 8.4 quakes and a 7.4 quake all in 3 days.

  • The first on Nov 4, 1854 near what is today Aichi Prefecture and Shizuoka Prefecture with tsunami.
  • It was followed by another 8.4 the next day in Wakayama Prefecture, Earthquake generated a maximum wave of 28 meters at Kochi, Japan, and the earthquake that tsunami killed 3,000 people. The tsunami washed 15,000 homes away. The number of homes destroyed directly by the earthquake was 2,598; 1,443 people died.[11]
  • The third was a 7.4 quake on Nov 7, 1854 in Ehime Prefecture and Oita Prefecture.

The total result was 80,000-100,000 deaths.[14] 

1855: Edo, Japan (安政江戸大地震)

The following year, the 1855 Great Ansei Edo Quake hit (Tokyo region), killing 4,500 to 10,000 people. Popular stories of the time blamed the quakes and tsunamis on giant catfish called Namazu thrashing about. The Japanese era name was changed to bring good luck after 4 menacing quake/tsunamis in 2 years.

1868: Hawaiian Islands

On April 2, 1868, a local earthquake with a magnitude estimated between 7.5 and 8.0 rocked the southeast coast of the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. It triggered a landslide on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano, five miles north of Pahala, killing 31 people. A tsunami then claimed 46 additional lives. The villages of Punaluu, Ninole, Kawaa, Honuapo, and Keauhou Landing were severely damaged and the village of ʻĀpua was destroyed. According to one account, the tsunami "rolled in over the tops of the coconut trees, probably 60 feet high .... inland a distance of a quarter of a mile in some places, taking out to sea when it returned, houses, men, women, and almost everything movable." This was reported in the 1988 edition of Walter C. Dudley's book "Tsunami!" (ISBN 0-8248-1125-9).

1868: Arica, Chile

On August 16, 1868, an earthquake with a magnitude estimated at 8.5 struck the oceanic trench currently known as the Peru-Chile Trench. A resulting tsunami struck the port of Arica, then part of Peru, killing an estimated 25,000 in Arica and 70,000 in all. Three military vessels anchored at Arica, the US warship Wateree and the storeship Fredonia, and the Peruvian warship America, were swept up by the tsunami.[15]

1883: Krakatoa, Sunda Strait, Indonesia

The island volcano of Krakatoa in Indonesia exploded with devastating fury on August 26-27, 1883, blowing its underground magma chamber partly empty so that much overlying land and seabed collapsed into it. A series of large tsunami waves was generated from the collapse, some reaching a height of over 40 meters above sea level. Tsunami waves were observed throughout the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and even as far away as the American West Coast, and South America. On the facing coasts of Java and Sumatra the sea flood went many miles inland and caused such vast loss of life that one area was never resettled but went back to the jungle and is now the Ujung Kulon nature reserve.

1896: Meiji Sanriku, Japan (明治三陸地震)

On 15 June 1896, at around 19:36 local time, a large undersea earthquake off the Sanriku coast of northeastern Honshū, Japan, triggered tsunami waves which struck the coast about half an hour later. Although the earthquake itself is not thought to have resulted in any fatalities, the waves, which reached a height of 100 feet, killed approximately 27,000 people. In 2005 the same general area was hit by the 2005 Sanriku Japan Earthquake, but with no major tsunami.


1908: Messina, Italy

The aftermath of the tsunami that struck Messina in 1908.

The 1908 Messina earthquake in Italy, triggered a large tsunami that took more than 70,000 lives.

1923: Kanto, Japan (関東大震災)

The Great Kanto Earthquake, which occurred in eastern Japan on 1 September 1923, and devastated Tokyo, Yokohama and the surrounding areas, caused tsunamis which struck the Shonan coast, Boso Peninsula, Izu Islands and the east coast of Izu Peninsula, within minutes in some cases. In Atami, waves reaching 12 meters were recorded. Examples of tsunami damage include about 100 people killed along Yuigahama beach in Kamakura and an estimated 50 people on the Enoshima causeway. However, tsunamis only accounted for a small proportion of the final death toll of over 100,000, most of whom were killed in fire.

1929: Newfoundland

The aftermath of the tsunami that struck Newfoundland in 1929.

On November 18, 1929, an earthquake of magnitude 7.2 occurred beneath the Laurentian Slope on the Grand Banks. The quake was felt throughout the Atlantic Provinces of Canada and as far west as Ottawa and as far south as Claymont, Delaware. The resulting tsunami measured over 7 meters in height and took about 2½ hours to reach the Burin Peninsula on the south coast of Newfoundland, where 28 people lost their lives in various communities. It also snapped telegraph lines laid under the Atlantic.

1933: Showa Sanriku, Japan (昭和三陸地震)

On March 3, 1933, the Sanriku coast of northeastern Honshū, Japan which had already suffered a devastating tsunami in 1896 (see above) was again stuck by tsunami waves as a result of an offshore magnitude 8.1 earthquake. The quake destroyed about 5,000 homes and killed 3,068 people, the vast majority as a result of tsunami waves. Especially hard hit was the coastal village of Taro (now part of Miyako city) in Iwate Prefecture, which lost 42% of its total population and 98% of its buildings. Taro is now protected by an enormous tsunami wall, currently 10 meters in height and over 2 kilometers long. The original wall, constructed in 1958, saved Taro from yet another destruction from the 1960 Chilean tsunami (see below). ja:昭和三陸地震

1944: Tonankai, Japan (東南海地震)

A magnitude 8.0 earthquake on 7 December 1944, about 20 km off the Shima Peninsula in Japan, which struck the Pacific coast of central Japan, mainly Mie, Aichi, and Shizuoka Prefectures. News of the event was downplayed by the authorities in order to protect wartime morale, and as a result the full extent of the damage is not known, but the quake is estimated to have killed 1223 people, the tsunami being the leading cause of the fatalities. ja:東南海地震

1946: Nankaidō, Japan (南海地震)

The Nankai earthquake on 21 December 1946 had a magnitude of 8.4 and hit at 4:19 [local time]. There was a catastrophic earthquake on the southwest of Japan in the Nankai Trough. It was felt almost everywhere in the central and western parts of the country. The tsunami that washed away 1451 houses and caused 1500 deaths in Japan. It was observed on tide gauges in California, Hawaii, and Peru.[11]

The Nankai megathrust earthquakes are periodic earthquakes occurring off the southern coast of Kii Peninsula and Shikoku, Japan every 100 to 150 years. Particularly hard hit were the coastal towns of Kushimoto and Kainan on the Kii Peninsula. The quake led to more than 1400 deaths, tsunami being the leading cause. measuring 8.4.

1946: Aleutian Islands

Residents run from an approaching tsunami in Hilo, Hawai’i.

On April 1, 1946, the Aleutian Islands tsunami killed 159 people on Hawaii and five in Alaska (the lighthouse keepers at the Scotch Cap Light in the Aleutians). It resulted in the creation of a tsunami warning system known as the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), established in 1949 for Oceania countries. The tsunami is known as the April Fools Day Tsunami in Hawaii due to people thinking the warnings were an April Fools prank.


1952: Severo-Kurilsk, Kuril Islands, USSR

The November 5, 1952 tsunami killed 2,336 on the Kuril Islands, USSR.

1958: Lituya Bay, Alaska, USA

On July 9, 1958, an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.3 on the Richter scale rocked a small inlet in Alaska called Lituya Bay. It then caused part of a mountain at the back of the bay to collapse, creating a landslide that caused a megatsunami that flew headlong through the bay. The wave was measured to be 524 meters (about 1,742 ft) high, making it the highest wave in recorded history. In comparison, this wave was higher than any skyscraper on Earth. It swept up three boats and killed two people aboard two of the boats, but amazingly, the father and son aboard the other boat both survived. They were carried above the forest, and washed back into the bay. The wave stripped hundreds of trees from the mountain slopes.

Damage from the 1958 megatsunami can be seen in this oblique aerial photograph as the lighter-colored areas where trees have been stripped away.

1960: Valdivia, Chile

The magnitude-9.5 Great Chilean Earthquake of May 22, 1960 is the strongest earthquake ever recorded. Its epicenter, off the coast of South Central Chile, generated one of the most destructive tsunami of the 20th Century. It also caused a volcanic eruption.

It spread across the entire Pacific Ocean, with waves measuring up to 25 meters high. The first tsunami arrived at Hilo approximately 14.8 hrs after it originated off the coast of South Central Chile. The highest wave at Hilo Bay was measured at around 10.7 m (35 ft). 61 lives were lost allegedly due to people's failure to heed warning sirens.

Almost 22 hours after the quake, the waves hit the ill-fated Sanriku coast of Japan, reaching up to 3 m above high tide, and killed 142 people. Up to 6,000 people died in total worldwide due to the earthquake and tsunami.[16]

1963: Vajont Dam, Monte Toc, Italy

The Vajont Dam as seen from Longarone today, showing approximately the top 60-70 metres of concrete. The 200-250 metre wall of water (megatsunami) that over-topped the dam would have obscured virtually all of the sky in this picture.

The Vajont Dam was completed in 1961 under Monte Toc, 100 km north of Venice, Italy. At 262 metres, it was one of the highest dams in the world. On October 9, 1963 an enormous landslide of about 260 million cubic metres of forest, earth, and rock, fell into the reservoir at up to 110 km per hour (68 mph). The resulting displacement of water caused 50 million cubic metres of water to overtop the dam in a 250-metre high wave. The flooding destroyed the villages of Longarone, Pirago, Rivalta, Villanova and Faè, killing 1,450 people. Almost 2,000 people (some sources report 1,909) perished in total.

1964: Niigata, Japan (新潟地震)

The 1964 Niigata earthquake in Japan killed 28 people, and liquefacted whole apartment buildings. A subsequent tsunami destroyed the port of Niigata city. ja:新潟地震

1964: Alaska, USA

After the magnitude 9.2 Good Friday Earthquake, tsunamis struck Alaska, British Columbia, California, and coastal Pacific Northwest towns, killing 121 people. The waves were up to 100 feet tall, and killed 11 people as far away as Crescent City, California.This happened on March 27, 1964. The incident was covered in Dennis Powers' The Raging Sea: The Powerful Account of the Worst Tsunami in U.S. History (ISBN 0806526823).

1976: Moro Gulf, Mindanao, Philippines

On August 16, 1976 at 12:11 A.M., a devastating earthquake of 7.9 hit the island of Mindanao, Philippines. It created a tsunami that devastated more than 700 km of coastline bordering Moro Gulf in the North Celebes Sea. An estimated number of victims for this tragedy left 5,000 dead, 2,200 missing or presumed dead, more than 9,500 injured and a total of 93,500 people were left homeless. It devastated the cities of Cotabato, Pagadian, and Zamboanga, and the and provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, and Zamboanga del Sur.

1979: Tumaco, Ecuador

A magnitude 7.9 earthquake occurred on December 12, 1979 at 7:59:4.3 UTC along the Pacific coast of Colombia and Ecuador. The earthquake and the resulting tsunami caused the destruction of at least six fishing villages and the death of hundreds of people in the Colombian Department of Nariño. The earthquake was felt in Bogotá, Cali, Popayán, Buenaventura, and several other cities and towns in Colombia and in Guayaquil, Esmeraldas, Quito, and other parts of Ecuador. When the tsunami hit the coast, it caused huge destruction in the city of Tumaco, as well as in the small towns of El Charco, San Juan, Mosquera, and Salahonda on the Pacific coast of Colombia. The total number of victims of this tragedy was 259 dead, 798 wounded and 95 missing or presumed dead.

1983: Sea of Japan (日本海中部地震)

On May 26, 1983 at 11:59:57 local time, a magnitude-7.7 earthquake occurred in the Sea of Japan, about 100 km west of the coast of Noshiro in Akita Prefecture, Japan. Out of the 107 fatalities, all but four were killed by the resulting tsunami, which struck communities along the coast, especially Aomori and Akita Prefectures and the east coast of Noto Peninsula. Footage of the tsunami hitting the fishing harbor of Wajima on Noto Peninsula was broadcast on TV. The waves exceeded 10 meters in some areas. Three of the fatalities were along the east coast of South Korea (whether North Korea was affected is not known). The tsunami also hit Okushiri Island, the site of a more deadly tsunami 10 years later. ja:日本海中部地震

1993: Okushiri, Hokkaido, Japan (北海道南西沖地震)

A devastating tsunami wave occurred along the coasts of Hokkaidō in Japan as a result of a magnitude 7.8 earthquake, 80 miles (130 km) offshore, on July 12, 1993.

Within minutes, the Japan Meteorological Agency[citation needed] issued a tsunami warning that was broadcast on NHK in English and Japanese (archived at NHK library). However, it was too late for Okushiri, a small island near the epicenter, which was struck with extremely big waves, some reaching 30 meters, within two to five minutes of the quake. Aonae, a village on a low-lying peninsula at the southern tip of the island, was devastated over the course of the following hour by 13 waves of over two meters’ height arriving from multiple directions, including waves that had bounced back off Hokkaidō—despite being surrounded by tsunami barriers. Of 250 people killed as a result of the quake, 197 were victims of the series of tsunamis that hit Okushiri; the waves also caused deaths on the coast of Hokkaidō. While many residents, remembering the 1983 tsunami (see above), survived by quickly evacuating on foot to higher ground, it is thought that many others underestimated how soon the waves would arrive (the 1983 tsunami took 17 minutes to hit Okushiri) and were killed as they attempted to evacuate by car along the village’s narrow lanes. The highest wave of the tsunami was a staggering 31 meters (102 ft) high. ja:北海道南西沖地震

1998: Papua New Guinea

On 17 July 1998, a Papua New Guinea tsunami killed approximately 2,200 people.[17] A 7.1-magnitude earthquake 24 km offshore was followed within 11 minutes by a tsunami about 15 metres tall. The tsunami was generated by an undersea landslide, which was triggered by the earthquake. The magnitude of the earthquake was too low to generate a tsunami. The villages of Arop and Warapu were destroyed.


2004: Indian Ocean

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake; Tsunami strikes Ao Nang, Thailand.

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, which had a moment magnitude of 9.0 to 9.3,[18] triggered a series of lethal tsunamis on December 26, 2004, that killed approximately 300,000 people (including 168,000 in Indonesia alone), making it the deadliest tsunami as well as one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. It was also caused by the second-largest earthquake in recorded history. The initial surge was measured at a height of approximately 33 meters (108 ft), making it the largest earthquake-generated tsunami in recorded history. The tsunami killed people over an area ranging from the immediate vicinity of the quake in Indonesia, Thailand, and the north-western coast of Malaysia, to thousands of kilometres away in Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and even as far away as Somalia, Kenya, and Tanzania in eastern Africa. This trans-Indian Ocean tsunami is an example of a teletsunami, which can travel vast distances across the open ocean. In this case, it is an ocean-wide tsunami.

Unlike in the Pacific Ocean, there was no organized alert service covering the Indian Ocean. This was in part due to the absence of major tsunami events since 1883 (the Krakatoa eruption, which killed 36,000 people). In light of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, UNESCO and other world bodies have called for an international tsunami monitoring system.

2006: South of Java Island

A 7.7 magnitude earthquake rocked the Indian Ocean seabed on July 17, 2006, 200 km south of Pangandaran, a beautiful beach famous to surfers for its perfect waves. This earthquake triggered tsunamis which height varied from 2 meters at Cilacap to 6 meters at Cimerak beach, where it swept away and flattened buildings as far as 400 meters away from the coastline. More than 800 people were reported missing or dead.

2006: Kuril Islands

On 15 November 2006, a great earthquake occurred off the coast near the Kuril Islands. In spite of the quake's large 8.3 magnitude, a relatively small tsunami was generated. The small tsunami was recorded or observed in Japan and at distant locations throughout the Pacific.Wednesday, November 15, 2006 at 11:14:16 (UTC)_= Coordinated Universal Time (Local date and time at epicenter: Wednesday, November 15, 2006 at 10:14:16 PM )Latitude: 46.616°N, Longitude: 153.224°E near the Kuril Islands, Russia USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)The earthquake occurred: 245 miles east of the island of Etorofu (Japanese name) or Iturup (Russian name), which is about 110 miles northeast of Hokkaido, Japan. 440 km () ENE of Kuril'sk, Kuril Islands, 443 kilometers (about 277 miles east - northeast of Kuril'sk 500 km (310 miles) SSW of Severo-Kuril'sk, Kuril Islands, Russia and 1650 km (103 miles) northeast of Tokyo, Japan. Magnitude - 8.3

Focal Depth - 28.5 km (17.7 miles)

Aftershocks - There were many aftershocks after the main quake. Four large aftershocks measured 6.5, 6.3, 6.0 and 6.2

Sesimic Activity in the Region - There was significant seismic activity in the region since September 2006 Seismicity of the Northern Japan/Kuril island Region

The Kuril islands and Japan is one of the world's most earthquake-prone regions in the world. _Around 20 per cent of the world's earthquakes take place in this region. The seismicity of Northern Japan is the result of a double seismic zone (DSZ), and compressional deep trench and outer rise events and by the magmatic effects of plumes or superplumes which, originally, may have hydrated the subducting oceanic lithosphere. Usually, shallow normal faulting occurs in the trench-outer rise region.

The volcanic Kuril island chain runs from the northern tip of Hokkaido to the southern tip of Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. It is also a region of high seismic activity.

The area where the November 15, 2006 earthquake occurred had earthquakes over a magnitude of 8.0 in 1952, 1963, 1994 and 2003.

Damages and Death Toll from Earthquake and Tsunami

There were no reports of damage or injuries, according to NHK (Japan). At Hokkaido Prefecture all trains were stopped as a precautionary measure.Tectonic Setting of the Northern Japan/Kuril Island Region

The overall tectonics of northeast Asia are very complicated. Whether the Sea of Okhotsk and the northern Japanese islands are part of the North American plate or of a separate Okhotsk plate has not been determined. On the Pacific Ocean side, earthquake slip vectors along the Kuril and Japan trenches are consistent with either a Pacific-North America or a Pacific-Okhotsk plate motion. We will assume that the Pacific-North America plate motion is better supported.

The Kuril island arc is located between the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Japanese island of Hokkaido. The Kuril Trench has been formed by the subduction of the Pacific plate under the North American plate. It extends from the offshore central area of Kamchatka to Hokkaido.

The plate tectonics of the Southern Kuril islands-Northern Hokkaido region are quite complex and very different than those along the southern portion of the Japanese Trench. The South Kuril Islands are part of the Kuril arc in the Okhotsk plate which has been colliding westward against the Northeast Japan arc, along the Hidaka Collision Zone (HCZ), where new continental crust is created by active arc-arc collision.

Deep seismic reflection studies (Ito, Kazuka @Abe, 2001) show the lower crust of the Kuril arc to be delaminated at a depth of about 23 km. These studies indicate that the upper half (above 23 km) - consisting of the Earth's upper crust and the upper portion of lower crust of the Kuril arc - is thrusting over the Northeast Japan arc along the Hidaka Main Thrust (HMT). However, the lower half (below 23 km) - consisting of the lower portion of lower crust and upper mantle material - is descending downward.

Ocean bottom morphology of Kamchatka, the Kuril Island Trench, Sakhalin Island, and the Sea of Okhotsk.

As a result of such kinematic processes, the wedge of the Northeast Japan arc is intruded into the delaminated Kuril arc, as the Pacific plate is subducting northward beneath both of the above mentioned structures, thus continuing the arc-arc collision (and continental crust production). The complex, seismo- tectonic kinematic process of this region has been named "Delamination-wedge-subduction system" - which may apply also to other areas where active arc-arc collision and concurrent subduction take place.

Accordingly, Hokkaido - Japan's northernmost island - extends northeast into Kuril Islands and is composed of multiple compressed island arcs. The northern half of Honshū (north of Tokyo), which is Japan's main island, represents a typical mature island arc, while the southern half of the island represents also a typical mature island arc, as the Philippine Sea plate subducts below the Eurasian plate.

On the western side, the Sea of Japan is a complex basin between Japan and the Korea/Okhotsk Sea Basin. It represents another subplate with apparent rotational movement as it interacts against the Okhotsk plate, along the inland sea boundary of the Hidaka Collision Zone (HCZ).

Sakhalin island, north of Hokkaido, which separates the Sea of Japan from the Sea of Okhotsk, is probably the result of transpressional tectonics along the North America-Eurasia boundary.

2007: Solomon Islands

On April 2, 2007, a powerful magnitude 8.1 (initially 7.6) earthquake hit the East Pacific region about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of the Solomon Islands at 7:39 a.m., resulting in a tsunami that was up to 17 feet (5 m) tall. The wave, which struck the coast of Solomon Islands (mainly Gizo), triggered region-wide tsunami warnings and watches extending from Japan to New Zealand to Hawaii and the eastern seaboard of Australia. So far, at least 39 people are confirmed dead with the toll expected to rise. Dozens more have been injured with entire towns inundated by the sweeping water which travelled 300 meters inland in some places. Simbo, Choiseul and Ranunga islands were also affected. A state of national emergency was declared for the Solomon Islands. On the island of Choiseul, a wall of water reported to be 30 feet (9.1 m) high swept almost 400 meters inland destroying everything in its path. Officials estimate that the tsunami displaced more than 5000 residents all over the archipelago.

2007: Niigata, Japan (新潟県中越沖地震)

On 16 July 2007, a strong earthquake struck northwestern Japan, causing a fire and minor radioactive water leak at one of the world's most powerful nuclear power plants. At least seven people were killed and hundreds injured. Japan's Meteorological Agency measured the quake at 6.8 on the richter scale and sending aftershocks of 6.6. The U.S. Geological Survey, which monitors quakes around the world, said the initial quake registered 6.7. A tsunami watch was issued along the Sea of Japan. The predicted height of the tsunami was estimated to be 50 cm (20 inches).[19] That earthquake sparked only a few small tsunamis, growing to be no more than about 20 cm (8 inches) tall. However, the 1964 quake and tsunami north of the current one destroyed the port of the city of Niigata. ja:新潟県中越沖地震

2009: Samoa, Pacific Ocean

2010: Chile

Highest or tallest


The deadliest tsunami in recorded history was the 2004 Asian tsunami, which killed almost 230,000 people in eleven countries across the Indian Ocean.

Other historic tsunamis

Other tsunamis that have occurred include the following:

  • ca. 500 B.C.: Poompuhar, Tamil Nadu, India, Maldives
  • 1541: a tsunami struck the earliest European settlement in Brazil, São Vicente. There is no record of deaths or injuries, but the town was almost completely destroyed.

South Asia

Tsunamis in South Asia
Source: Amateur Seismic Centre, India[20]
Date Location
1524 Near Dabhol, Maharashtra
2 April 1762 Arakan Coast, Myanmar
16 June 1819 Rann of Kachchh, Gujarat, India
31 October 1847 Great Nicobar Island, India
31 December 1881 Car Nicobar Island, India
26 August 1883 Krakatoa, Sunda Strait, Indonesia
28 November 1945 Mekran coast, Balochistan

North America and the Caribbean


Source: NOAA National Weather Service Forecast Office, [2]


  • 6100 BC - Storegga Slide, Norway - The Storegga slide generated a huge tsunami that washed through the North Atlantic Ocean, hitting Norway, Iceland and the east coast of Scotland, where it reached a height of 21 metres, and even washed over some of the Shetland Islands.
  • 11 January 1683 - An earthquake in Italy triggered a tsunami that killed more than 1000 people.
  • 6 February 1783 - An offshore earthquake in Southern Italy caused a tsunami that killed around 1500 people.
  • 20 September 1867 - An earthquake in Greece caused a tsunami that killed 12 people.
  • 11 September 1930 - 2 people were killed by a tsunami in Italy, caused by an undersea earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Ritcher Scale.
  • 9 July 1956 - An earthquake in Greece generated a tsunami that drowned 4 people.
  • 28 February 1969 - A submarine earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Ritcher Scale, with its epicentre of the coast of Portugal, caused a tsunami that hit Northern Portugal, parts of Spain, and Morocco. No lives were lost.
  • 16 October 1979 - 23 people died when the coast of Nice, France, was hit by a tsunami, caused by an undersea landslide. The sea suddenly receded from the shore and returned in two huge waves, hitting a 36-mile-long coastal stretch. Hundreds of boats were overturned, and 11 people working in a shipyard were drowned.
  • 13 December 1990 - 6 people died when an undersea earthquake in Italy caused a tsunami.
  • 17 August 1999 - The 1999 İzmit earthquake in Northwest Turkey triggered a 2 metre high tsunami in the Sea of Marmara.[21][22][23][24]


The 1607 Bristol Channel floods, which were traditionally believed to be a massive storm surge, could possibly have been a tsunami, caused by an earthquake or landslide off the coast of Southern Ireland. There is some evidence suggesting it was a tsunami, but not enough to confirm. It was the deadliest natural disaster in the history of the United Kingdom, and killed around 2000 people from Somerset to Cardiff.

See also


  1. ^ Thucydides: “A History of the Peloponnesian War”, 3.89.1-5
  2. ^ Smid, T. C.: "'Tsunamis' in Greek Literature", Greece & Rome, 2nd Ser., Vol. 17, No. 1 (Apr., 1970), pp. 100-104 (102f.)
  3. ^ Herodotus: "The Histories", 8.129
  4. ^ Antonopoulos, John: "The Tsunami of 426 BC in the Maliakos Gulf, Eastern Greece", Natural Hazards, Vol. 5 (1992), pp.83-93
  5. ^ Smid, T. C.: "'Tsunamis' in Greek Literature", Greece & Rome, 2nd Ser., Vol. 17, No. 1 (Apr., 1970), pp. 100-104 (103f.)
  6. ^ The Lost Cities of Ancient Helike: Principal Ancient Sources
  7. ^ a b Kelly, Gavin: “Ammianus and the Great Tsunami”, The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 94 (2004), pp. 141-167 (141)
  8. ^ Stanley, Jean-Daniel & Jorstad, Thomas F. (2005): "The 365 A.D. Tsunami Destruction of Alexandria, Egypt: Erosion, Deformation of Strata and Introduction of Allochthonous Material"
  9. ^ Stiros, Stathis C.: “The A.D. 365 Crete earthquake and possible seismic clustering during the fourth to sixth centuries AD in the Eastern Mediterranean: a review of historical and archaeological data”, Journal of Structural Geology, Vol. 23 (2001), pp. 545-562 (549 & 557)
  10. ^ "Fault found for Mediterranean 'day of horror'." New Scientist magazine, 15 March 2008, p. 16.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h JNOAA Earthquake Database Query
  12. ^
  13. ^ (Earth and Planetary Science Letters, DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2008.02.021). In: "Fault found for Mediterranean 'day of horror'." New Scientist magazine, 15 March 2008, p. 16.
  14. ^ (Japanese) 安政南海地震
  15. ^ The 1868 Arica Tsunami
  16. ^ ""Emergency & Disasters Data Base"". CRED. Retrieved 2006-05-30. 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Strong quake jolts Japan, tsunami alert issued". Reuters. Retrieved 2007-07-16. 
  20. ^
  21. ^,3,4;journal,18,26;linkingpublicationresults,1:102476,1
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address