Thursday, July 09, 2009

Highest wave ever known

According to, on this day 51 years ago:
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 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 contiuned 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.
Yes, the highest wave that has ever been known, 524 m (1720 ft), happened 51 years ago today at Latiya Bay, Alaska. Here's part of a map showing where Latuya Bay is:

Here's it's aerial view:
And here is a model conjecture, according to Kenji Satake, Geological Survey of Japan (see here) of what might have happened:

Study of tsunami wave is fascinating. I once collaborated on a paper with Dr. Hermann Fritz whose laboratory data on landslide generated impulse waves enthralled me to no end. But there's only limited data available and limited stuff a data analyst can do. So I remained as a tsunami bystander.

1 comment:

Wos said...

Well so what was the height of the wave while it was traveling?Should be abour 200-250 meters right?