They flew over rafts of logs fanning out in the open water as far as five miles from the mouth of the bay. Conferences, Workshops and Board Meetings, 2015 WSSPC Registration (Payment By Check), Join/Renew Affiliate Membership (Credit Card), Engineering, Construction and Building Codes Committee. All told, five people were killed by the earthquake and subsequent wave in Lituya Bay. Ward and Day describe how the initial rockfall could have triggered a second submarine slide of glacial sediment capable of generating the wave observed in the outer bay. There were 2 incredibly lucky fishermen in their boat on the Bay when the megatsunami happened, and they lived to tell about it. Accessed November 20, 2020. Lituya Bay offers the only sheltered anchorage for a long stretch of Southeast Alaska coast, but the bay itself is hardly safe. My ship seemed very small there beneath the steep walls of ice and stone. We develop seismic policies and share information to promote programs intended to reduce earthquake-related losses. Scientists who had not seen the effects of the wave firsthand argued that above 300 feet, the soil and trees must have slid into the bay during the earthquake. Miller first assumed that the wave had been caused by the large movements along the fault in the inlets. Most of this total came from earthquakes in Iran and Ecuador Overall ... 5 people were killed in the 1958 Lituya Bay, Alaska earthquake and megatsunami. Miller, USGS/Wikimedia Commons). The Fairweather fault does not produce the largest earthquakes, but the danger from these earthquakes is increased by the combination of steep slopes, unconsolidated soils, narrow fjords, and a population that lives and works by the sea. On July 10, 1958, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake occurred on the Fairweather Fault in southeast Alaska. Miller was not around to study these, as he had drowned on the Kiagna River with a young assistant in 1961. Southeast Alaska Earthquake. In Gilbert Inlet, which branches north at a right angle from the head of the bay, Miller found that a stream delta had vanished and 1,300 feet of ice had sheared off the end of Lituya Glacier. Avalanches were coming down the mountains at the head of the bay. For most of the bay, destruction below the trimline was absolute. We develop seismic policies and share information to promote programs intended to reduce earthquake related losses. I think I have resolved the issue that I mentioned three years ago by including the words "Alaska" and "earthquake" in the title (a few sources that I looked at labeled the earthquake the "1958 Alaska earthquake"). The bay was noted in 1786 by Jean-François de Lapérouse, who named it Port des Français. Education is our best tool. Opposite this scar, on the spur that forms the corner between Gilbert Inlet and the main part of the bay, pilot Kenneth Loken flew alongside a sharp new trimline below which the trees and earth had been stripped away to clean bedrock. The seven miles long and two miles narrow Lituya Bay. (Photo: USGS). (Map from Miller, Great Waves in Lituya Bay, Alaska), Aerial view of Lituya Bay. This massive tremor triggered around 30.6 million cubic meters of rock to fall 3,000 feet into the Lituya Glacier, causing a torrent of displaced water to rear up and form a monstrous wave which, miraculously, only killed five people. UAF is an AA/EO employer and educational institution and prohibits illegal discrimination against any individual. In Lituya Bay, fewer than five minutes passed between the earthquake and when the wave reached the boats. On July 9, 1958, the largest wave in modern history occurred in Lituya Bay, on the northern Southeast Alaska coast about halfway between Cape Spencer and Yakutat. This 7.8Mw earthquake was characterized as extreme and triggered many rockslides accounting to three million cubic meters that fell into the Lituya Bay … The Wagners on the Sunmore reacted first, raising their anchor and making for the entrance of the bay. The undersea slide that killed one in Skagway in 1994 was not triggered by an earthquake at all, but by an extreme low tide. Lituya Bay is a fjord located on the Fairweather Fault in the northeastern part of the Gulf of Alaska. The landslide was not caused by an earthquake, and residents had no warning before the wave arrived. Unfortunately, the qualities that make Lituya Bay so prone to landslide tsunamis are found in bays and fjords throughout Southeast Alaska. However, Steven Ward and Simon Day of UC Santa Cruz felt that the Gilbert Inlet slide alone could not account for the size of the wave that swept through the outer bay or the amount of material deposited at the bottom of Gilbert Inlet. Miller could not explain how the earthquake had caused such an enormous wave, but he was certain that it had. A non-profit earthquake consortium for the western states. The boat rode over the crest of the wave, down its shallower tailing side, and was carried by a returning wave towards the center of the bay. Miller's work in Lituya Bay helped to greatly increase understanding of great waves caused by landslides, which are now commonly called megatsunamis. This tsunami is analogous to the tallest ever recorded tsunami, which hit Lituya Bay, Alaska in 1958. Ultimately, it was discovered that a piece of rock, 2,400 feet by 3,000 feet, and 300 feet thick, had dislodged from the face of the northern wall of the inlet, and fallen 2,000 feet into the bay. The Edrie, meanwhile, was caught in a mess of disordered, 20-foot chop filled with ice and logs. The mountaineers’ pilot came early, on the evening of July 9, forcing a mad scramble to leave before nightfall.
Miller, United States Geological Survey. On July 9, 1958, an earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.7-8.3 triggered an enormous rockfall in a remote bay along the Gulf of Alaska. That was not the case in 2015, when 180 million tons of rock—the largest non-volcanic landslide ever documented in North Amerca—into Taan Fjord, an inlet of Icy Bay. Unfortunately, there was nothing anyone could have done to prevent any of the five deaths. Ulrich steered into the wave and the Edrie shot up its face, snapping the anchor chain and sending it whipping around the pilot house. Make It Happen Memories. As the wall of water rushed down the inlet, Ulrich found that that his anchor was hopelessly stuck. The Fairweather fault runs directly through Gilbert and Crillon inlets, which form the crosspiece at the top of Lituya Bay's distinctive "T" shape. A full-grown Alaskan brown bear on the rocky slope looked the size of a mite. As the waves calmed, Ulrich piloted through the debris and made a harrowing escape through the shallow entrance at around 11pm. Nearer the mouth of the bay, at Anchorage Cove, the wave picked up the Badger and threw it over the spit. Left: Decades after the tsunami, damage to the edges of the bay (the light green areas) can clearly be seen on this Landsat image. Two hundred miles to the south, underwater landslides in Lynn Canal severed ACS's Juneau-Skagway cable in four places. (Photo: USGS), South side of Lituya Bay, soon after the tsunami. 100-million-ton slide onto the Lamplugh Glacier, generate a megatsunami with 600-foot run-up, residents had no warning before the wave arrived, Lituya Bay Case: Rock Slide Impat and Wave Run-Up, The Alaska Earthquake of July 10, 1958: Movement on the Fairweather Fault and Field Investigation of Southern Epicentral Region, The 1958 Lituya Bay Landslide and Tsunami - A Tsunami Ball Approach, Embedded video for 60 years ago: The 1958 earthquake and Lituya Bay megatsunami, 2156 Koyukuk Drive, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775. This mass of rock plunged from an altitude of approximately 3000 feet (914 meters) down into the waters of Gilbert Inlet (see map below). People living in coastal communities should understand how megatsunamis happen and what to do if they are near the water when they feel an earthquake or witness a large slide (hint: run uphill). The earthquake struck at 10:16pm. By 9pm they were in the air, leaving behind three fishing boats that had come into the steep-walled bay for the night. (Map from Miller, Great Waves in Lituya Bay, Alaska), During the earthquake, the bay side of Gilbert and Crillon inlets moved about 20 feet northwest relative to the northeast wall that forms the head of the bay. It caused significant geologic changes in the region, including areas that experienced uplift and subsidence. The Landslide Blog (2008, July 9) Lituya Bay—50 Years On. After a minute or so the wave reached Cenotaph Island, breaking as it came around the left side but smooth-faced on the right. Miller wrote that the hillsides were dripping with water while the streams that drained small lakes above the bay were running down in swollen torrents. Lituya Bay Oblique aerial photograph of Lituya Bay in the summer of 1958. On July 9, 1958, an earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.7-8.3 triggered an enormous rockfall in a remote bay along the Gulf of Alaska. The combination of steep slopes rising directly out of the sea, rapid erosion from glaciers and heavy coastal precipitation, and frequent earthquakes all contribute to frequent landslides capable of causing tsunamis. Large earthquakes sometimes start the landslides that cause megatsunamis, as in Lituya Bay, but not always. Somehow the Edrie was still afloat with its motor still running. Don Miller, the geologist, was on a USGS barge in Glacier Bay when the earthquake struck. The combination of steep slopes rising directly out of the sea, rapid erosion from glaciers and heavy coastal precipitation, and frequent earthquakes all contribute to frequent landslides capable of causing tsunamis. The hat brim is 12 inches in diameter. In some respects, it created a similar reaction to that which would have occurred if an asteroid had fallen into the water. One World Trade Center in New York City is only 56 feet taller. At Yakutat, bridges, docks, and oil lines were damaged, a water tower fell, and a few cabins were destroyed. So far we have been lucky to have few human impacts from recent landslide tsunamis in Alaska, but a disaster in Greenland in 2017 should serve as a warning. © 2009-2021 Western States Seismic Policy Council. It’s also possible that big landslides are becoming more common as glaciers retreat, removing support from the lower slopes of steep valleys. Cenotaph Island, a large wooded mound at the center of the bay, is named for the 21 members of the La Perouse expedition who drowned in 1798 after capsizing in the tidal bore at the bay’s shallow entrance. geologist, had already documented a total of three other major tsunamis at this location; he flew out to the site the next day, and although he was able to take photos from the air, it was another three weeks before it was safe enough to land to document the destruction. 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