Catastrophic Events: History’s ’15 Largest Tidal Waves & Tsunamies’ (Video)

The largest tidal waves, tsunamis, and other types of waves throughout history. Never turn your back to the sea.

  • #1 Lituya Bay, Alaska – On the night of July 9, 1958, an earthquake along the Fairweather Fault in the Alaska Panhandle loosened about 40 million cubic yards (30.6 million cubic meters) of rock high above the northeastern shore of Lituya Bay. This mass of rock plunged from an altitude of approximately 3000 feet (914 meters) down into the waters of Gilbert Inlet (see map below). The impact force of the rockfall generated a local tsunami that crashed against the southwest shoreline of Gilbert Inlet. The wave hit with such power that it swept completely over the spur of land that separates Gilbert Inlet from the main body of Lituya Bay. The wave then continued down the entire length of Lituya Bay, over La Chaussee Spit and into the Gulf of Alaska. The force of the wave removed all trees and vegetation from elevations as high as 1720 feet (524 meters) above sea level. Millions of trees were uprooted and swept away by the wave. This is the highest wave that has ever been known.
  • #2 Krakatoa tsunami – The 27 August 1883 explosion of Krakatau Volcano in Indonesia is one example of an eruption-caused tsunami. The eruption generated a 30m tsunami in the Sunda Strait which killed about 36,000 people, as it washed away 165 coastal villages on Java and Sumatra.
  • #3 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami occurred at 07:58:53 in local time on 26 December, with an epicentre off the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. It was an undersea megathrust earthquake that registered a magnitude of 9.1–9.3 Mw, reaching a Mercalli intensity up to IX in certain areas.

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