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Home »Occurrence of Tsunamis » Pacific Ocean

Occurrences of Tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean

Map of historical occurrences of Tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean

Map of historical occurrences of tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean

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Tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean

Tsunamis occur most frequently in the Pacific, particularly along the "Pacific Ring of Fire". This zone is found at the northern edge of the Pacific Plate and refers to the geologically most active fields of the earth. Several times a year, strong earthquakes of at least 7 on the Richter scale result in tsunamis.
Japan, for example, is hit by a tsunami at least once a year. Due to its geographical situation, it is also the country where the most casualties have been claimed in the last thousand years. In this period, more than 160 000 people have been the victims of tsunamis. As a result, Japan has developed an effective tsunami warning system and many Japanese villages and cities protect themselves by means of gigantic dykes. Other states in the tsunami danger zones are, however, not as well equipped as Japan.

Tsunami warning system in the Pacific

In order to limit damages by tsunamis, seismographs were installed under water all over the world. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) in Honolulu, Hawaii plays an important role in the analysis of the data. Originally set up for the protection of the US population, there are currently 26 member states that take part in the tsunami warning system in the Pacific, which became multinational in 1965. However, erroneous alarms can be costly if evacuations are unnecessary, and can undermine the trust that people have in the warnings.

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The greatest Tsunami catastrophes worldwide – an overview Further information on the Tsunami Alarm System from the media
Date Sea region Affected region Mag. Max. Wave height Casualties  
23.06.2001 Peru Peru 8,4 7,00 m 26
26.11.1999 Vanuatu Vanuatu, Vanuatu Islands 7,5 6,00 m 5
17.07.1998 Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea 7,0 15,00 m 2.182
14.11.1994 Philippines Philippines, Philippine Islands 7,1 7,30 m 62
04.10.1994 Russia Russia, Kuril Islands 8,3 11,00 m k. A.
12.07.1993 Japan Sea of Japan 7,7 31,70 m 330
12.12.1992 Indonesia South Pacific, Indonesia 7,5 26,20 m 1.000
02.09.1992 Nicaragua Nicaragua 7,4 10,00 m 168
26.05.1983 Japan Japan, Noshiro 7,7 14,50 m 103
12.12.1979 Colombia Colombia, Colombia-Ecuador 7,7 5,00 m 500
16.08.1976 Philippines Celebes Sea, Philippines, Moro Gulf 8,1 5,00 m 5.000
29.11.1975 USA USA, Hawaii 7,2 8,00 m k. A.
26.07.1971 Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea 7,9 10,00 m k. A.
22.11.1969 Russia Bering Sea, Russia, Bering Strait 7,7 15,00 m k. A.
11.08.1965 Vanuatu South Pacific, Vanuatu, Vanuatu Islands 7,0 7,00 m k. A.
04.02.1965 USA USA, Rat Islands, Alaska 8,7 10,70 m k. A.
28.03.1964 USA USA, Prince William Sound, Alaska 9,2 70,00 m 123
22.05.1960 Chile Chile, Central Chile 9,5 25,00 m 1.260
10.07.1958 USA USA, Se. Alaska 8,3 525,00 m 5
09.03.1957 USA USA, Fox Islands, Andreanof Islands 9,1 15,00 m k. A.
04.03.1952 Japan Japan, Se. Hokkaido Island 8,1 6,50 m 33
23.06.1946 USA Northeast Pacific, USA, Unimak Island, Alaska 7,3 30,00 m k. A.
01.04.1946 USA USA, Unimak Island, Alaska 7,3 35,00 m 165
07.12.1944 Japan Japan, Off Southeast Coast Kii Peninsula 8,1 10,00 m 40
02.03.1933 Japan Japan, Sanriku 8,4 30,00 m 3.000
22.06.1932 Mexico Eastern Pacific, Mexico 7,0 10,00 m 75
03.10.1931 Pacific Solomon Islands 7,9 10,00 m 50
02.02.1931 New Zealand South Pacific, New Zealand 7,7 15,30 m k. A.
16.11.1925 Mexico Eastern Pacific, Mexico 7,0 11,00 m k. A.
01.09.1923 Japan Japan, Tokaido 7,9 12,00 m 2.144
13.04.1923 Russia Western Pacific, Russia, Kamchatka 7,2 30,00 m 20
03.02.1923 Russia Western Pacific, Russia, Kamchatka 8,3 8,00 m 3
11.11.1922 Chile Chile, North Chile 8,5 9,00 m 100
07.09.1918 Russia Russia, S. Kuril Islands 8,2 12,00 m 50
15.08.1918 Pacific Celebes Sea 8,3 7,00 m 6
26.06.1917 Tonga South Pacific, Tonga, Tonga Islands 8,3 12,00 m k. A.
01.05.1917 New Zealand New Zealand, Kermadec Islands 8,0 12,00 m k. A.
31.01.1906 Ecuador South Pacific, Ecuador, Colombia 8,8 5,00 m 1.000
10.09.1899 USA USA, Yakutat Bay, Alaska 8,2 60,00 m k. A.
15.06.1896 Japan Japan, Sanriku 7,6 38,00 m 26.360
06.03.1895 Pacific Solomon Sea 7,5 6,00 m 30
10.05.1877 Peru Peru 8,3 24,00 m 500
13.08.1868 Chile Chile, North Chile 8,5 21,00 m 25.000
28.06.1859 Indonesia Indonesia, N. Moluccas Islands 7,0 9,00 m k. A.
23.08.1856 Japan Japan, Se. Hokkaido Island 7,8 6,00 m 26
23.01.1855 New Zealand South Pacific, New Zealand 8,0 9,00 m k. A.
24.12.1854 Japan Japan, Nankaido 8,4 28,00 m 3000
21.07.1788 USA USA, Shumagin Islands, Alaska 8,0 88,00 m k. A.
29.06.1780 Russia Russia, S. Kuril Islands 7,5 12,00 m 12
24.04.1771 Japan Japan, Ryukyu Islands 7,4 85,00 m 13.500
29.10.1746 Peru Peru 8,0 24,00 m 3.800
08.07.1730 Chile Chile, Central Chile 8,7 16,00 m k. A.
28.10.1707 Japan Japan 8,4 11,00 m 30.000
31.12.1703 Japan Japan, Tokaido-Kashima 8,2 10,50 m 5.200
20.10.1687 Peru Peru 8,5 8,00 m 500
04.11.1677 Japan Japan, Kashima 7,4 8,00 m 500
02.12.1611 Japan Japan, Sanriku 8,0 25,00 m 5.000
24.11.1604 Peru Peru 8,5 16,00 m 80
09.07.1586 Peru Peru 8,5 24,00 m k.A.
20.09.1498 Japan Japan, Nankaido 8,6 17,00 m 31.000
12.09.1495 Japan Sagami Bay, Japan, Tokaido 7,1 5,00 m 200
Source: National Geophysical Data Center - Tsunami Event Database More informations about the Tsunami Alarm System from the mass media

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Greatest known Tsunamis of the Pacific region

17 July 1998: A seaquake caused a flood wave on the north coast of Papua New Guinea. 2 000 people lost their lives.

12 December 1992: A wave of 26 meters high flooded the Flores Islands and approximately 1 000 people were injured. No deaths were reported.

2. September 1992: A flood wave of 10 metres high killed about 180 people on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. The epicentre was 120 km off the coast.

28 March 1964: An earthquake off the coastline of Alaska caused a tsunami that claimed 122 lives on the western coast of Alaska and the USA.
The damage to property amounted to about 100 million dollars.

22 May 1960: On Hawaii a whole village was evacuated in time because of the first warning system. In spite of this, 61 people were killed. In Chile, the point of origin of the tsunami, 1 000 people lost their lives through a wave of eleven metres high.

09 July 1958: Due to a landslide in Lituya Bay in Alaska, a tsunami developed that rose up to 520 metres high in the narrow fjord-like bay. Because the region is sparsely inhabited, there were few casualties.

1. April 1946: In Alaska a flood wave washed a lighthouse into the sea and the five-man crew were swept away. After 3 700 km, the wave reached Hawaii and claimed the lives of 159 people.

02 March 1933: A 20 meter high wave that rose off the coast of Japan caused 3 000 casualties.

31 January 1906: During a flood wave that broke on the coasts of Colombia and Ecuador 500 to 1 500 people died.

15 June 1896: During religious ceremonies, tens of thousands of Japanese were surprised by a 23-meter high wave. The so-called Saraiko tsunami claimed 26 000 human lives.

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Read more about:
- Occurrences of Tsunamis Worldwide
- Occurrences of Tsunamis in the Indian Ocean
- Occurrences of Tsunamis in the Atlantic Ocean
- Occurrences of Tsunamis in the Mediterranean

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