1960 Chilean Tsunami

On May 22, 1960, at 19:11 GMT, an earthquake occurred off the coast of South Central Chile. A Pacific-wide tsunami was triggered by the earthquake, which had a surface-wave magnitude of 8.6, an epicenter of 39.5° S, 74.5° W, and a focal depth of 33 km. The number of fatalities associated with both the tsunami and the earthquake has been estimated to be between 490 to 2,290. Damage cost estimates were over a half billion dollars.

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Aerial view of coastal area on Isla Chiloe, Chile, showing tsunami damage and wave extent. Two hundred deaths were reported here from the tsunami generated just off Chile's coast by the magnitude 8.6 earthquake. The inhabitants, fearing the earthquake, took to small boats to escape the shaking. The trough of the tsunami arrived just 10 to 15 minutes after the earthquake, along more than 500 m of the coast. Upon the return of the sea in a thunderous breaker, all boats were lost. The most serious effects occurred in an area extending from Concepcion on the Chilean coast to the south end of Isla Chiloe. Photograph Credit: Unknown. Source: National Geophysical Data Center.

After the tsunami had passed the Hawaiian Islands damage costs were estimated at $24 million and 61 people had died. Hilo, on the main island of Hawaii, was the hardest hit city in the islands. The tsunami arrived at Hilo 14.8 hrs after the it originated off the coast of South Central Chile. The - at Hilo was measured at 10.7 m.

[Link to Image] Aftermath of the Chilean tsunami in the Waiakea area of Hilo, Hawaii, 10,000 km from the generation area. Parking meters were bent by the force of the debris-filled waves. Note the scattered debris and the gutted foundation. In the area of maximum destruction, only buildings of reinforced concrete or structural steel, and a few others sheltered by these buildings, remained standing--and even these were generally gutted. Frame buildings either were crushed or floated to the limits of flooding. Photograph Credit: U.S. Navy. Source: National Geophysical Data Center.

[Link to Image] Downtown Hilo, Hawaii, was left devastated by the tsunami. Photo Credit: The Honolulu Advertiser.

Along the Peru-Chile coast the estimated lost of life from the tsunami ranged from 330 to 2000 people and the - was measured as high as 25m. A city along the western coast of the United States which received notable run-up was Crescent City, California, where the run-up reached 1.7 m and the first wave arrived 15.5 hrs after the tsunami was triggered.

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Parking meters along the Hilo bayfront were bent from the tremendous force of the waves. Photo Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Numerical Models


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