« Video Of The Day: Turn Water Into Ice Instantly! | Main | Yacht Versus Waterspout! Waterspout Wins & The Video From INSIDE It Is CRAZY! Check It Out... »


Alaskan Super Wave - The 1958 Mega-Tsunami!

According to Wikipedia, a Mega-tsunami or "purification wave" is an informal term used to describe a tsunami that has initial wave heights that are much larger than normal tsunamis. 

While the average tsunami can generate wave heights of around 30 or event 50 feet, megatsunamis are on A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SCALE!  

On the evening of July 9th, 1958 the largest tsunami ever observed occurred in Lituya Bay in Southeast Alaska. 

Lituya map

At approximately 10:15 PM Pacific Time, a magnitude 8.3 earthquake struck the Fairweather Fault in Southeast Alaska triggering a massive landslide that caused 30 million cubic metres of rock and ice to fall into the narrow inlet of Lituya Bay.

Lituya_Bay_overviewAerial photograph of Lituya Bay a few weeks after the 1958 tsunami. Effects of the tsunami can be seen as the lighter colored areas on the sides of the bay, where the trees were stripped by the waves resulting from the megatsunami.  Photo by D.J. Miller, United States Geological Survey.

The rock and ice fell from a height of between 2,000 and 3,000 feet causing the sudden displacement of a massive amount of water at the head of the bay resulting in the largest wave every observed!


Incredibly, the cataclysmic tsunami rose to a maximum height of 1720 feet (524 meters)!!!

Lituya_bay_megatsunami-e1300182150175   Relative size of the 1958 Mega-Tsunami compared to the largest skyskrapers in the world at the time.

The force of the initial wave surged up and over a mountainous spur (where the max wave height was measured) located directly across from where the landslide occurred before entering the main body of Lituya Bay.  

Mdj01167The chisled tree line on the mountainous spur along the west side of Gilbert Inlet in Lituya Bay shows just how high the 1958 megatsunami rose.  Photo courtesy USGS.

From there, the giant wave then continued down the entire 7 mile length of Lituya Bay, crossed over La Chaussee Spit before surging into the Gulf of Alaska.

The incredible force of the wave completely stripped trees and vegetation along all sides of the bay to several hundred feet in elevation in some locations.


The tsunami inundated approximately 5 square miles of land along the shores of Lituya Bay, sending water as far as 3,600 feet inland and clearing millions of trees.

The giant wave was responsible for the deaths of two boaters who were anchored in the bay on that fateful night of July 9, 1958.  

Wave-damaged-treeStump of living spruce tree (about seven miles from the landslide) broken off by the giant wave at Harbor Point, mouth of Lituya Bay. Brim of hat is 12 inches in diameter. Photo by D.J. Miller, USGS.

Amazingly though, another boater along with his son survived!  

Hear the remarkable story of Sonny and Howard Ulrich and how they lived to tell the story of the Alaskan Super Wave here in this YouTube Video courtesy BBC...



WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell


Jeremy's Bio

Follow me on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter!

Email me at [email protected]


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Wow, I can not even begin to imagine!

And the messed up part is it could happen again there is a volcano in the canaries known as cumbre di aja if it erupts there is a 120 mile shars of land on the west coast of the canaries that would slip into the Atlantic Ocean and cause a super wave bigger than Alaska's super wave that would wipeout the entire East coast from NYC to Miami so let the alaskan superwave be a lesson in history and keep in mind how much unstable real estate we have because tomorrow is not promised

*Actual wave height* was "only" 30 m (100') but the wave 'run-up' traveled inland and upslope to an elevation of 524 m (!1700'). The graphic with skyscrapers is wrong / misleading.


The comments to this entry are closed.