When you think of a tsunami, you think of huge waves and flooded cities, right? However, most tsunamis, defined as waves caused by earthquakes, landslides and volcanic movements, go unnoticed. These waves, which scare most of us, usually don’t reach more than a few inches, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). However, if the trigger event is strong enough, the outcome of this natural disaster can be catastrophic. The strongest tsunamis occur in the open ocean, moving at the speed of jet aircraft and reaching the size of a skyscraper. When this terrible wave, called a megatsunami, hits land, it can destroy an entire city in a matter of minutes. Let’s take a look at the 8 biggest tsunamis in the world together.
1. Karratfjord, Greenland | 89 meters
Tsunamis rarely occur in Greenland, but in 2017 the island was hit by one of the world’s largest megatsunamis. On June 17, a landslide in the Karratfjord caused an 89-meter wave to hit the fishing village of Nugaatsiak. This natural disaster killed 4 people, and 11 buildings were left under water. Experts believe that this event was triggered by the melting of glaciers. Unfortunately, the mountains around Karratfjord are still unstable and Greenland could experience more massive landslide-driven tsunamis in the future.
2. Ambon Island, Indonesia | 99 meters
The first fully documented megatsunami in Indonesia is also one of the largest in world history. On February 17, 1674, a strong earthquake struck the island of Maluku in the Banda Sea. This seismic event caused a 99-meter wave to hit Ambon Island, killing more than 200 people. The water level reaching the coastal hill of the Hitu peninsula reached 30 meters.
3. Lituya Bay, Alaska | 120 meters
The landslide is believed to have caused this megatsunami to hit a T-shaped fjord in southeast Alaska. When checking rings and marking trees, it turned out that this disaster occurred in late 1853 or early 1854, and the tsunami reached a height of 100 meters. Numerous megastunamycins have been encountered throughout history in Lituya Bay. Its steep walls and proximity to the Fairweather Fault Line are the most important reasons for this situation.
4. Lituya Bay, Alaska | 149 meters
On October 27, 1936, the second largest tsunami occurred in Lituya Bay. According to eyewitnesses, three huge waves coming from Crillon Bay at a speed of 35 km hit the bay. The largest of these waves reached 149 meters. Experts are still not sure what caused the 1936 tsunami, but underwater landslides are believed to be one of the reasons.
5. Ice Bay, Alaska | 71 meters
The remote Ice Bay Fjord in Alaska witnessed the megatsunami on October 17, 2015. A 633-foot wave after the landslide destroyed 18,129,916 square feet of forest in Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Fortunately, there were no casualties. Like Lituya Bay, which we mentioned above, it has steep walls carved by a retreating glacier in Ice Bay. For this reason, tsunamis often occur in the region.
6. Vaiont Dam, Italy | 235 meters
Unlike other tsunamis on the list, this disaster was caused by humans. The Vaiont Dam in Northern Italy, completed in 1960 and at the time the highest dam in the world, caused damage to the natural environment. The surface of the nearby Mount Tok began to crack, and on October 9, 1963, the soil on the side of the mountain towards the dam collapsed into a reservoir below. The landslide triggered a tsunami that destroyed several villages in the Piave Valley in 15 minutes. More than 2,000 people died as a result of the tragedy. Reaching a height of 235 meters, the Vajont Dam megatsunami is one of the largest waves in history and one of the deadliest man-made environmental disasters.
7. St. Helens, Washington | 249 meters
May 18, 1980 Washington St. The earthquake that caused the explosion of Mount Helens also brought with it a megatsunami. As a result of the earthquake, the northern part of the volcano collapsed. The fragmented piece fell into Spirit Lake. The almost 250-meter tsunami that followed the catastrophe went down in history as the third largest wave in the world.
8. Lituya Bay, Alaska | 524 meters
On July 9, 1958, the largest megatsunami ever recorded occurred in Lituya Bay, Alaska. An earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Fairweather Fault threw 90 million tons of rock into the bay. The 524-meter wave caused by these rocks caused the death of 5 people.
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