At 5:07 p.m. local time on July 17, 2006, a tsunami struck the Indonesian island of Java. Bringing water approximately 2 meters (6 feet) high, the tsunami destroyed buildings and damaged fishing boats. According to Reuters news service, at least 80 people had been killed. The tsunami resulted from a nearby earthquake. Estimates for the quake’s severity ranged from 6.8 to 7.7 on the Richter scale.
This image shows the region’s bathymetry. Just as a topographic map shows the height of land surface features above sea level, bathymetry shows the depth below sea level. In this image, darker blue corresponds with greater depth. The water is shallowest closest to the islands, getting considerably deeper east of Borneo, and south of Java and Sumatra. The epicenter of the earthquake is approximately 250 kilometers off the coast of Java. Marked in yellow, the epicenter appears along a ridge where the ocean floor rises fairly abruptly from greater depths. Flat gray areas indicate landmasses.
According to News@Nature.com, Java received an alert from the newly installed tsunami early warning system, and this might have saved some lives. Other news sources speculated that memories of the severe tsunami on December 26, 2004, might have spurred locals to seek higher ground as soon as they felt the first tremor. Hours after the tsunami struck, however, the number of casualties remained unknown.
NASA image by Jesse Allen, Earth Observatory, using data from the Blue Marble.
A tsunami washed over the low-lying coastal resort region near Camaná,southern Peru, following a strong earthquake on June 23, 2001. The earthquake was one of the most powerful of the last 35 years and had a magnitude of 8.4. After the initial quake, coastal residents witnessed a sudden draw-down of the ocean and knew a tsunami was imminent. They had less than 20 minutes to reach higher ground before the tsunami hit. Waves as high as 8 meters came in four destructive surges reaching as far as 1.2 kilometers inland. Thousands of buildings were destroyed, and the combined earthquake and tsunami killed as many as 139 people.