Earthquake News

1952 Severo-Kurilsk earthquake

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Source: Everything.explained.todayWashington Edu



The 1952 Severo-Kurilsk earthquake struck off the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula. The 9.0 Mw earthquake triggered a major tsunami that hit Severo-KurilskKuril IslandsSakhalin OblastRussian SFSRUSSR, on 4 November 1952 at 16:58 (UTC). This led to the destruction of many settlements in Sakhalin Oblast and Kamchatka Oblast, while the main impact struck the town of Severo-Kurilsk. It was the fifth most powerful earthquake since 1900, and to date, the most powerful earthquake in Russian history.


The tsunami was generated 130km (80miles) offshore Kamchatka, impacting Severo-Kurilsk with three waves about 15- high. After the earthquake the majority of the Severo-Kurilsk citizens fled to the surrounding hills, where they escaped the first wave. However, most of them returned to the town and were killed by the second wave. According to the authorities, out of a population of 6,000 people, 2,336 died. The survivors were evacuated to continental Russia. The settlement was then rebuilt in another location.

Earthquakes continue to happen in the area, including a M7.5 event that occurred at a Depth of 56km on 25 March 2020.

Off the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia. A Pacific-wide tsunami was triggered by the earthquake, which had a surface-wave magnitude of 8.2, an epicenter of 52.8° N, 159.5° E, and a focal depth of 30 km. Six cows died and no human lives were lost in Hawaii where damage estimates ranged from $800,000- $1,000,000 (1952 dollars).

Link to Image Flooded street resulting from the arrival of the Kamchatka tsunami on Midway Island about 3,000 km away from the origin. Photograph Credit: U.S. Navy. Source: National Geophysical Data Center.

The tsunami had caused severe damage to Kamchatka Peninsula and then proceeded throughout the pacific. Midway Island was innundated with 1 m of water, flooding streets and buildings. On the Hawaiian Islands the waves destroyed boats, knocked down telephone lines, destroyed piers, scoured beaches, and flooded lawns. In Honolulu Harbor a cement barge was thrown into a freighter. In Hilo Bay a small bridge connecting Cocoanut Island to the shore was destroyed by a wave when it lifted off its foundation and then smashed down.

Link to Image


Aerial view of Kaika Bay near Haleiwa on the north shore of Oahu shows the fourth wave climbing up beach toward the beach houses and shows the extent of inundation from previous waves. Photograph Credit: George Curtis. Source: National Geophysical Data Center.

At Cocoanut Island the water swept in with a run-up of 12 feet. It was observed in Hilo that the run-up could have been as high as 11 1/2 feet. Also in Hilo, at Reed's Bay, the water level rose as high as 11 feet. Hilo Bay recorded the highest levels of run-up. At most of the other coastal cities in Hawaii, the water rise was barely noticeable. During this event, the interesting observation was made that the highest or most destructive wave would vary from location to location. Without knowing which wave will be the largest at a particular location the local authorities must properly warn residents that could be affected and keep them away from the shore until it is safe to return.


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