February 26, 2010 - Chilean Earthquake and Pacific Ocean Tsunami

A powerful earthquake registering magnitude 8.8 on the Richter Scale struck Chile at 10:34pm (California time) causing widespread damage and hundreds of casualties in the local region.  This earthquake generated a tsunami, which traveled across the Pacific Ocean, triggering a “Tsunami Alert” for California by the National Weather Service, West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.  The Alert status indicated that tsunami amplitudes (wave heights could reach about four feet and that strong harbor currents could occur.  For California, the tsunami caused maximum measured wave heights of three to four feet in Santa Barbara, and generated significant currents and a minor amount of damage in harbors statewide.

The California Geological Survey worked closely with the California Emergency Management Agency throughout the Tsunami Advisory, providing field observations and scientific advice to state and local emergency managers.  If you would like to find out more your own local tsunami hazard, please visit the CGS Tsunami Inundation Map webpage.