Benchmarks: July 9, 1958: Megatsunami drowns Lituya Bay, Alaska

The recent disaster in Japan demonstrates the incredible destructive power of a megatsunami in a heavily populated area. But a record-breaking tsunami of a different sort occurred in 1958, in a remote part of Alaska known as Lituya Bay — and was witnessed by only six people, two of whom died. The giant tsunami and the unusual geometry of the bay combined to produce the largest wave run-up ever recorded — deluging the steep forested hills along the edges of the bay to a height of 524 meters. The wave was a powerful reminder of the forces nature can unleash.
 

Full content for EARTH is available to subscribers. If you would like to gain access to the full version of this article, as well as all EARTH content, please subscribe today.

If you are connecting using a Library (IP-based) Subscription, please access full issues of the magazine through our Library Access portal.

Sam Lemonick

Sam Lemonick (www.samlemonick.com) is a freelance writer based in Berkeley, Calif.

Monday, July 4, 2011 - 06:00