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Tsunami Photos

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Tsunami Photographs
Here is a selection of our many photographs in the archives.  These photographs provide a look at the effects of the tsunamis in Hawai`i and the Pacific in recent history.

Archive Photos - 1946 Tsunami
On April 1, 1946, a 7.8 earthquake in the Aleutian Islands generated a tsunami which struck the Hawaiian Islands.  The tsunami claimed the lives of 159 people in (what is now known as) the state of Hawai'i (122 from the Big Island) and caused $26 million in damages.

Archive Photos - 1950's Tsunamis
On November 5, 1952, an 8.2 earthquake occurred off the Southeastern coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula of the Russian Far East.  Tsunami waves were generated and spread across the North Pacific at more than 500 miles per hour.  Then just five years later, on March 9, 1957, an earthquake measuring 8.3 occurred in the Aleutian Islands generating a tsunami.  Waves up to 75 feet high were reported on Umnak Island.  The tsunami traveled 2,440 miles across the Pacific, at a speed of just under 500 miles per hour, and first reached Kauai at 9 a.m.

Archive Photos - 1960 Tsunami
The tsunami to strike the state of Hawai'i on May 23, 1960 was generated from an earthquake in Chile measuring 8.6 on the Richter Scale (surface wave magnitude).  This main shock was recalulated  to have a moment magnitude of 9.5.  Earthquake moment, Mw, is a measure of earthquake size related to the leverage of the forces across the area fault slip. Much of the damage occurred in Hilo, Hawai'i, where 61 people were killed, 537 buildings destroyed and damages totaled over $23 million. The tsunami continued across the Pacific and struck Japan seven hours later killing 142 people.

Archive Photos - 1975 Tsunami
On November 29, 1975 a 7.2 earthquake occurred locally in the area of Kalapana, Hawai'i.  The earthquake generated a tsunami with a maximum height of over 47 feet.  The earthquake and tsunami took the lives of two campers and caused property damage estimated at $4.1 million.

Archive Photos - 1998 Tsunami
At 6:49 p.m. on July 17, 1998, an earthquake occurred at the western end of the Bismark Sea and measured 7.0 on the Richter Scale.  About 20 minutes later, a tsunami wave crashed ashore and inundated a 20-mile stretch of beach from west of Aitape to the village of Serai.  There was a total of three devastating waves.  Villagers were crushed in their huts, buried under sand and debris, and many drowned.  In all, 2202 people lost their lives and 1000 more were injured.  A total of 10,000 survivors lost their homes and personal possessions.

Archive Photos - 2004 Tsunami
On Sunday, December 26, 2004 at 0100 GMT, a 9.3 magnitude earthquake occured on the seafloor near Aceh in northern Indonesia.  This earthquake generated a huge tsunami wave, hitting the coasts of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and even Somalia.

Tsunami Book
The Tsunami of 1946 and 1960 and the Devastation of Hilo Town written by University of Hawaii at Hilo professor and Pacific Tsunami Museum's scientific advisor Dr. Walter Dudley and Scott Stone. Published in 2000, the book describes the events of the 1946 and 1960 tsunami in Hilo and uses hundreds of photos from the museum archives.

We also have many more photographs in our Archives. Give us a call to set up an appointment and view some of our collections in person. Archives: 808-935-0926
If you are interested in ordering photographs, videos, or transcripts, click here for more information:

Ordering from the Archives

All materials © Copyright 1996-2007 Pacific Tsunami Museum Inc.
130 Kamehameha Ave Hilo, HI 96720 tel: 808-935-0926 FAX: 808-935-0842 email:
Last Revised November 2007