National Geographic
Menu

Chile quake triggers tsunami watch across Pacific region

An 8.8 magnitude earthquake was registered 22 miles underground off the coast of Chile early this morning, the U.S. Geological Survey reports.

One of the strongest earthquakes on record, the temblor has triggered tsunami advisories across the Pacific Ocean, including Japan and California.

chile-earthquake-tsunami-map.jpg

This map put out by NOAA’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center shows the location (the red star, lower right) of the 8.8 magnitude earthquake. A dotted line has been added to the map to indicate potential tsunamis in the direction of Hawaii.

Map courtesy of NOAA

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a severe warning to the state of Hawaii, as follows:

A TSUNAMI HAS BEEN GENERATED THAT COULD CAUSE DAMAGE ALONG

COASTLINES OF ALL ISLANDS IN THE STATE OF HAWAII. URGENT ACTION

SHOULD BE TAKEN TO PROTECT LIVES AND PROPERTY.

A TSUNAMI IS A SERIES OF LONG OCEAN WAVES. EACH INDIVIDUAL WAVE

CREST CAN LAST 5 TO 15 MINUTES OR MORE AND EXTENSIVELY FLOOD

COASTAL AREAS. THE DANGER CAN CONTINUE FOR MANY HOURS AFTER THE

INITIAL WAVE AS SUBSEQUENT WAVES ARRIVE. TSUNAMI WAVE HEIGHTS

CANNOT BE PREDICTED AND THE FIRST WAVE MAY NOT BE THE LARGEST.

TSUNAMI WAVES EFFICIENTLY WRAP AROUND ISLANDS. ALL SHORES ARE AT

RISK NO MATTER WHICH DIRECTION THEY FACE. THE TROUGH OF A TSUNAMI

WAVE MAY TEMPORARILY EXPOSE THE SEAFLOOR BUT THE AREA WILL

QUICKLY FLOOD AGAIN. EXTREMELY STRONG AND UNUSUAL NEARSHORE

CURRENTS CAN ACCOMPANY A TSUNAMI. DEBRIS PICKED UP AND CARRIED

BY A TSUNAMI AMPLIFIES ITS DESTRUCTIVE POWER. SIMULTANEOUS HIGH

TIDES OR HIGH SURF CAN SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE THE TSUNAMI HAZARD.

THE ESTIMATED ARRIVAL TIME IN HAWAII OF THE FIRST TSUNAMI WAVE IS

                     1119 AM HST SAT 27 FEB 2010

MESSAGES WILL BE ISSUED HOURLY OR SOONER AS CONDITIONS WARRANT.

 

News reports said the State of Hawaii was planning to sound a siren alarm throughout the state at 6 a.m. local time–the first since 1964.

If the tsunami warning alarms sound at 6 a.m., “we are urging people not to panic,” a local official told the Honolulu Advertiser. “It’s important that those in low-lying areas can get to higher ground. We want to remind people that they have five hours to evacuate after the alarms sound.”

The Honolulu Advertiser also reported that the state Department of Transportation was urging all shipping agents and shipping companies to get their ships out of the port of Honolulu before the time the tsunami was expected.

Read our news story: Tsunami Warning for Hawaii After Huge Chile Earthquake

Watch our video: Tsunamis 101 

Learn more at: Tsunamis–Killer Waves

chile-earthquake-zone-map.jpg

Map of earthquake zone courtesy of NOAA