2010 Tsunamis

Event List - January 1 - December 31, 2010

Advisories issued by international tsunami warning centres. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (P) issues: Tsunami Information Bulletins (TIB), Fixed and Expanding Regional Warnings (FRW, ERW), and Ocean-wide Watch/Warnings (TWW) for the Pacific; Tsunami Information Bulletins (TIB), Local, Regional, and Ocean-wide Tsunami Watches (LTW, RTW, TW) for the Indian Ocean; Tsunami Information Statements (TIS), Local, Regional, and Ocean-wide Watches (LTW, RTW, TW) for the wider Caribbean (C). The Japan Meteorological Agency (J), issues: Tsunami Advisories (NWPTA) for the Northwestern Pacific; Tsunami Watch Information (TWI) for the Indian Ocean. The West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (A) issues: Tsunami Information Statements (TIS), Tsunami Watch/Warnings (TWW) for Canada, the US (including Puerto Rico, excluding Hawaii and US-affiliated Pacific Island countries), and the US/British Virgin Islands. Depth (from GCMT solution) epicenter and Mw from the USGS (G), and Mw from PTWC (P) and JMA (MJMA for Japan local vicinity) at action time. Wave height and period measurements from sea level gauges reported as amplitude, peak to trough, or greatest value for either inundation or runup as indicated. Other earthquakes with moment magnitude (Mw) greater than or equal to 6.5 and a depth no greater than 100 km, as recorded by USGS, have also been included.

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25 October 2010, Mw 7.7, Mentawai Region, Indonesia

Summary, as of 1 November 2010

The 25 October 2010 magnitude 7.7 Mentawai, Indonesia earthquake and tsunami caused damage and over 450 deaths in the Mentawai Islands off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.  Five minutes after the earthquake, the Indonesia Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Agency (Badan Meteorologi Klimatologi dan Geofisika) issued a national warning for a local tsunami, and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and Japan Meteorological Agencies issued local tsunami watches seven and nineteen minutes after the earthquake, respectively, to Indian Ocean countries; national authorities are then responsible for issuing warnings to their populations on the tsunami threat to their coasts.

The highest measured tsunami amplitude locally was 0.35 m in Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia, and the highest measured amplitude overall was 0.4 m in Rodrigues Islands, Mauritius.  The highest tsunami waves were reported to be 3-6 m high by eyewitnesses

According to the World Data Center for Marine Geology and Geophysics / US National Geophysical Data Center (http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/hazard/) Global Historical Event databases, over 121 tsunamis have been generated in the Indian Ocean since 326 B.C.  These include the 2004 magnitude 9.1 Sumatra earthquake and tsunami that killed almost 230,000 people. Since the 2004 event, two tsunamis in the Sumatra region have caused deaths, in addition to the 25 October 2010 tsunami; these were the 2005 magnitude 8.7 Nias earthquake caused 1303 deaths and an additional 10 deaths due to the tsunami, and the 2006 magnitude 7.7 Java earthquake generated a tsunami that caused 664 deaths. In addition, non-fatal tsunamis were generated by the 2007 magnitude 8.4 Bengkulu earthquake that caused 25 deaths and the 2009 magnitude 7.5 Padang earthquake that resulted in 1,117 deaths.  Eruptions from three Indonesia volcanoes also caused fatalities since the Sumatra event: in 2005 Karthala caused one death, in 2006 Merapi (Java) caused two deaths, and in 2010 Sinabung (Sumatra) caused two deaths and Merapi has caused more than 30 deaths.   

Casualties and Damage
BNPB, National Disaster Management Agency, 3 Nov 10

BNPB, National Disaster Management Agency, 1 Nov 10  

1) Alert Information International

Event Timelines

2) Sea Level
3) Seismic
4) Model Simulations
5) Media
6) Photos, Satellite


Satellite Images

7) Videos  
8) Post-Earthquake Post-Tsunami Surveys



27 February 2010, MW 8.8, Off Central Chile

An International Post-Tsunami Field Survey is being coordinated by UNESCO Santiago, ITIC, and local scientists.  This Survey will officially start on Monday, March 8.  For more information contact the ITIC Director, Laura Kong (laura.kong@noaa.gov)

The 27 February 2010 magnitude 8.8 Chilean earthquake and tsunami caused damage and over 700 deaths in the coastal regions of central Chile. Following the earthquake, the NOAA Tsunami Warning Centers issued warnings for locations all over the Pacific from Antarctica to Seward, Alaska. As a result of the warnings, although tsunami waves of between 3-6 feet and strong currents were observed in many locations, no lives were lost outside of the epicentral region.  Unfortunately, lives were lost due to the tsunami in Pelluhue and Dichato in central Chile and on Robinson Crusoe Island located near the epicenter. The highest tsunami amplitudes, of several meters, were observed in the Juan Fernandez Islands and Talcahuano, Chile. Information is still being gathered and assessed.

According to the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC, http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/hazard/) Global Historical Event databases, this is the largest instrumental earthquake observed in Chile since the 1960 magnitude 9.5 Valdivia earthquake and tsunami that killed over 1,200 people, including 60 deaths in Hawaii.  Globally, this is the 6th largest instrumental earthquake and one of 280 deadly tsunamis. 


1) Alert Information International
2) Sea Level
3) Seismic


4) Model Simulations
5) Media
6) Photos - Other
7) Videos
8) Post-Earthquake Post-Tsunami Surveys



03 January 2010, Mw 7.2, Solomon Islands


1) Alert Information International
2) Sea Level
3) Seismic
4) Model Simulations
5) Media
6) Photos  

Chile Tsunami Event 27 February 2010

Observed water heights and calculated tsunami travel times, 27 February 2010

Observed water heights and calculated tsunami travel times, 27 February 2010

The 27 February 2010 M8.8 earthquake generated a tsunami that caused only 156 tsunami-related deaths locally.  Additionally, in spite of the great size of the earthquake, only a relatively small amount of earthquake damage occurred – this is generally attributed to the strong earthquake building code which structures have been built to over the decades since the 1960 M9.5 Chilean earthquake.

Similarly for the tsunami, while coastal residential dwellings were destroyed from tsunami waves, very few people lost their lives (compared to the potential vulnerable population, perhaps 100,000+ people) – this is largely attributed to pre-event preparedness, awareness, and education.  Elders who lived through the 1960 tsunami passed on their experience and wise advice to their children and grandchildren, and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and more recent earthquakes reminded everyone of the need to be aware and prepare.  These efforts were led by the Chile Navy’s Hydrographic Service (SHOA), Chile disaster management agency (ONEMI), and universities and community organizations; inundation maps, hazard and evacuation signage, and awareness and education materials were distributed along the coasts.  Without these efforts for the decades before, it is sure that many more would have perished.

Factors that helped reduce vulnerability for this event were generally limited earthquake damage due to well-engineered structures, tsunami signage, tsunami-prepared police and fire responders who assisted in warning and evacuation, and a prepared and educated coastal public who also received training in schools and through in-community practice drills.

Factors that unfortunately increased the vulnerability were the time of day (many were sleeping so that the earthquake was their early warning), no or little tsunami hazard information at visitor facilities (such as campgrounds) to help uninformed/unaware tourists and workers, and the long duration of destructive tsunami waves (several to 4 hrs so people returned before the end).  In the case of Constitucion, where 45 died, inopportune timing was the principal cause of death (many were camping on an island at the river mouth with no evacuation method, and this was the night after a summer-ending fireworks celebration).

Today, like in the South Pacific, Chile is working to strengthen their early warning systems, especially in hardening the communications infrastructures critical for providing information on warning and evacuation, and in improving the earthquake and tsunami detection networks to more quickly assess tsunami threat to their coasts.  Many are aware that the next tsunami will probably be to the north where there is already a long history of destructive tsunamis.  Awareness and outreach campaigns in this region aim to further strengthen community preparedness.  Again, the emphasis for local tsunamis is to ensure that everyone knows a tsunami’s natural warning signs and then knows to immediately take action since the tsunami may attack coasts within 10-30 minutes after the earthquake.



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Featured Resources

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Regional Disaster Information Center (Latin America & the Caribbean)

A database of Spanish language materials focused on tsunami preparedness.
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Post-Tsunami Survey:
El Salvador Summary Video

Learn the basics of a post-tsunami survey.

TsunamiTeacher USA
Tsunami Basics

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Learn the basics of tsunamis. Available in English and Samoan.

Tsunamis on the Move

Tsunami Awareness Poster

Awareness poster available in English, Chinese, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Singalese.


Global Hazard Maps

Posters of Tsunami Sources, Significant Earthquakes and Significant Volcanic Eruptions. Also Tsunami Sources Icosohedron Globe.

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Tsunami, The Great Waves

Available in English, Spanish, French and Chinese.


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Tsunami Glossary

Available in English, Arabic, Spanish, French and Bahasa. 



Where the First Wave Arrives in Minutes

Available in English, Bahasa, Spanish and French.


DVD copies for PC and Macintosh computers are available free of charge from the ITIC, Hawaii (itic.tsunami@noaa.gov).

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