Category: Tsunami

Chile Earthquake and Tsunami 4-1-2014

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Number of Deaths: 6 person(s)
Number of Injured: 3 person(s)
Number of Evacuated: 900000 person(s)

Situation: Chile has declared two northern regions hit by a 8.2 magnitude earthquake to be disaster areas. At least six people are known to have died and tens of thousands of people have been evacuated. The quake struck at 20:46 local time (23:46 GMT) about 86km (52 miles) north-west of the mining area of Iquique, the US Geological Survey said. Waves of up to 2.1m (6ft) have hit some areas and there have been power cuts, fires and landslides. Tens of aftershocks have been reported throughout the night, including a 6.2 tremor. The government said the declaration of a disaster in the regions of Tarapaca, Arica and Parinacota was aimed at “avoiding instances of looting and disorder”. President Michelle Bachelet said the country had “faced the emergency well” and called on those in affected regions “to keep calm and follow instructions from the authorities”. She is due to visit the affected areas later on Wednesday. Chilean TV broadcast pictures of traffic jams as people tried to head for safer areas. Officials said the dead included people who were crushed by collapsing walls or died of heart attacks. The interior minister also told Chilean TV that some 300 women inmates had escaped from a prison in Iquique. Officials later said that 26 of them had been recaptured. Authorities say they have re-established electricity supply in 50% of the affected areas. Iquique Governor Gonzalo Prieto told local media that in addition to those killed, several people had been seriously injured. While the government said it had no reports of significant damage to coastal areas, a number of homes were reported destroyed in Arica.rnrnFurther damage may not be known until dawn. The quake shook modern buildings in Peru and in Bolivia’s high altitude capital of La Paz – more than 470km (290 miles) from Iquique. The Chilean interior ministry told the BBC that one of the main roads outside Iquique was cut off because of hillside debris. Partial landslides have also taken place between the towns of Putre and General Lagos. The authorities are reported to have deployed a planeload of special forces to guard against looting. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (TWC) issued an initial warning for Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Panama. However, all warnings, watches and alerts were later lifted except for Chile and Peru. Tsunami watches – in which the danger of large waves is deemed to be less serious – had been in place for Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras. “We have asked citizens to evacuate the entire coast,” Chilean home office minister Mahmud Aleuy said. Evacuations were also ordered in Peru, where waves 2m (6.5ft) above normal forced about 200 people to leave the seaside town of Boca del Rio near the Chilean border, police said.
For more information on Tsunamis, Earthquakes and resources, see our information pages



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Coast of Minamisoma, Fukushima prefecture, March 11, 2011. Photo by: Sadatsugu Tomizawa





Special Features

Additional Resources:

50th Anniversary of the 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake and Tsunamis:

1964 Great Alaska Earthquake and Tsunamis, National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program

Tsunami Science:

Life of a Tsunami, USGS

Tsunamis: Frequently Asked Questions, NOAA

Tsunami Science and Preparedness, Cal OES

Tsunami Preparedness:

ShakeOut Tsunami Drill (PDF)

Current Tsunami Warning/Watch/Advisory Messages for All Regions, NOAA

Tsunami Detection and Warnings Fact Sheet, US Department of Commerce & Deparment of the Interior

Tsunami Safety Booklet (PDF), State of Hawaii

Tsunami Preparedness Week, National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program

Tsunami Awareness and Safety Fact Sheet, National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program

Cal OES Tsunami Brochure (PDF)

California Geological Survey Tsunami Information

Tsunami Inundation Maps, CGS

Tsunami Preparedness, American Red Cross

PrepareSoCal Disaster Central, American Red Cross

Be Informed: Tsunamis,

Preparing for Tsunami Hazards, FEMA


Emergency Preparedness and Response: Tsunamis, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Health Effects of Tsunamis
Food Safety After a Tsunami
Water Quality After a Tsunami
Sanitation & Hygiene After a Tsunami

Surviving a Tsunami: Lessons from Chile, Hawaii, and Japan, USGS

“Tsunami” is a Japanese word in which “tsu” means harbor and “nami” means wave. Thus the word means “harbor wave”. Tsunami is a series of waves that can travel at speeds averaging 450 (and up to 600) miles per hour in the open ocean. Most of tsunamis are caused by earthquake even though landslides, volcanic eruptions, and even meteorites can also generate a tsunami. From an initial tsunami generating source area, waves travel outward in all directions much like the ripples caused by throwing a rock into a pond. As these waves approach coastal areas, the time between successive wave crests varies from 5 to 90 minutes. The first wave is usually not the largest in the series of waves, nor is it the most significant. As the tsunami enters shallow water near coastlines in its path, the velocity of its waves decreases and its wave height increases. It is in these shallow waters that tsunamis become a threat to life and property for they can crest to heights of more than 10 m (30 feet), strikes with devastating force, and flood low-lying coastal areas[1].
Tsunami is characterized as shallow-water waves which are different from the wind generated waves. Wind-generated waves usually have a period (the time between two successive waves) of five to twenty seconds and a wavelength (the distance between two successive waves) of about 330 to 660 feet (100 to 200 meters). Tsunami in deep water can have a wavelenght than 300 miles and a period of an hour. The ratio between water depth and wavelength is very small. These shallow-water waves move at a speed equal to the square root of the product of the acceleration of gravity (9.8m/s/s) and the water depth. The deeper the water, the faster and shorter the wave is. For example, when the ocean is 20,000 feet deep, a tsunami travels at 550 miles per hour. At this speed, the wave can compete with a jet airplane, travelling across the ocean in less than a day. Because a wave loses energy at a rate inversely related to its wavelength, tsunamis can travel at high speeds for a long period of time and lose very little energy in the process[2].
Learn also about tsunami characteristics based on scientific measurement by University of California.
The most obvious fact about tsunami impact is death. An example from tsunami 2004, 159.687 people was killed by tsunami and thousands of missing person. There are a lot of more impacts caused by tsunami, infrastructure and house destruction, environment impacts, social impacts, etc. Another figure of the impact on the tsunami 2004, it was estimated that the total damages in Maldives about $460 million. It was a sharp drop of tourism in Maldives. Most of people in Maldives whom strike by tsunami were homeless, have no food, water, etc[3]. Here are only several examples the impacts of tsunami.
  • Economic Impact. Tsunami will affect many aspects of life, especially economy, fisherman loss their boats, farmers loss their farmland, lots of fallen building (offices, trade centres, market, etc), the collapse of tourism, etc. One witness is the devastation in southern Asian area[4].
  • Biodiversity Impact. Direct mortality of animals is one obvious fact; damage to forests; damage to conservation infrastructure; and damage to wetlands[5].
Learn also the impacts of previous tsunami in Asia and also the impact of tsunami on fishing, aquaculture and coastal communities in Malaysia.
Emergency Action
If a tsunami Warning is issued, NEVER go down to the beach to watch the wave comes in because you will not live to tell the story! Remember that a tsunami is a series of waves and the first wave is not necessarily the biggest. Stay out of danger until an “all-clear” is issued by the competent authority[6]. Here are also several steps to do in an emergency situation[7]:
  • Keep listening to current information, radio for instance, to know what the current situation is.
  • Move to inland and stay there until the situation is save enough to go back to down land.
  • Stay away from the beach if there is warn of tsunami.
  • If there is noticeable recession in water away from the shoreline this is nature’s tsunami warning and it should be heeded. You should move away immediately.
Learn also an emergency preparedness and response in CDC and initiative community emergency response on tsunami.
Tsunami mitigation plan is important if we are looking back the impacts of the latest tsunami in Asia on 2004. Several things should be done regarding to mitigation plan[8]:
  1. Provide hazard and disaster information where and when it is needed. This step is the way to provide necessary data and information about tsunami, the hazards, risks assessment.
  2. Provide appropriate research on better understanding the protective role coastal marshes, coral reefs, barrier islands and other coastal features during tsunami.
  3. Develop hazard mitigation strategies and technologies. It is necessary to develop structural and non structural mitigation. Structural such as develop appropriate technology on coastal zone like sea walls. Non structural such as land use planning on coastal zone.
  4. Reduce the vulnerability of infrastructure. Develop assessment models to inform the location of lifelines, hospitals, schools, power plants and utilities, fire and police stations, and equipments away from the risk area.
  5. Assess disaster resilience. Develop improved and standardized assessments of societal, economic, and environmental vulnerability to, impacts of, and a more robust response and recovery capacity related to tsunami.
  6. Promote risk-wise behaviour. This is the step to educate citizens and community to be more aware to tsunami risks, what to do before, during, and after tsunami. But the other hand, this step is also an important part to include risk reduction into policy action by government/state.
Learn also the US national tsunami hazard mitigation program.
Further Information
Several actions related to tsunami disaster management:
1.    The benefit of using GIS on emergency management in Indian Ocean earthquake/tsunami. (click here)
2.    Tsunami risk reduction as a framework for action in US. (click here)
3.    State tsunami emergency management plan in Australia. (click here)




NOAA Tsunami Hazard Mitigation
West Coast & Alaska Tsunami Warning
Tsunami and Earthquake Links
Pacific Disaster Center
NGDC: Tsunami Data
USC Tsunami Research
Tsunami Information Resource
Tsunami Forecast Offices
Pacific Tsunami Museum
(UK) Tsunami Risks Project
Wikipedia: Tsunami
USGS: Tsunamis & Earthquakes

For more information you can see our Tsunami Blog