The largest tsunami ever recorded occurred in 1958 in Lituya Bay, Alaska, per the United States Geological Survey. In 2018, the National Park Service (NPS) article “Landslides and Giant Waves” said, “The combination of recent deglaciation, relatively frequent earthquakes, steep rocky slopes, and narrow inlets suggests that many locations in Glacier Bay have the potential for generating large tsunami waves” that could pose a threat to ships or boats nearby. The narrow entrance of the bay has a depth of only 33 feet (10 m). You may opt-out by. This article is part of the August-September 2020 issue of the Sound Waves newsletter. In the cave lives the evil spirit qa-htu-‘a, similar in appearance to a great toad or frog. The boat was carried by the wave above the trees and luckily washed back into the bay, both Howard Ulrich and his son survived. A glacier in Alaska is threatening to trigger a potentially deadly and historic tsunami as it retreats under the overheated stress of climate change. These baseline data will serve to assess future landslide movement and released when analyzed. Map of Glacier Bay showing the relative probability of landslides entering the water along the coastline of the West Arm. A century-long glacial retreat has opened a multi-armed bay more than 30 miles (48 km) long. All Rights Reserved, This is a BETA experience. The Lituya Bay earthquake was powerful enough to generate a series of smaller landslides, both in the sea as on land, at a distance of 155 miles from the quake epicenter. Since 1853 at least four or five similar events are documented. Der wohl spektakulärste Mega-Tsunami dieser Art ereignete sich im Jahr 1958 in der Lituya Bay, einer T-förmigen Bucht von 11 km Länge und 1.3 km Breite im Glacier Bay National Park an der südlichen Ostküste Alaskas. Instead, all the recent rockslides and rock avalanches were apparently caused by climatic conditions, totaling at least 24 between 1984 and 2016. (2018) seit 1984 mindestens 24 große Felsstürze aufgetreten. Published September 7, 2018 A 200 million-ton landslide landed on the toe of Tyndall Glacier and in the water of Taan Fiord on Oct. 17, 2015, Icy Bay, Alaska. Am 7. The landslide and tsunami occurred within Taan Fiord, and fortunately didn’t impact any structures. Portions of the head and toe of the smaller Landslide B have shown a relatively small 3 inches of movement during the same period. Tsunami-inducing landslides are rare but have occurred in Alaska and elsewhere. The tsunami did have some impact outside the fjord, but did not reach coastal habitations. A "big wall of water," according to Ulrich 50 to 75 feet high, swept through the bay washing away rocks and trees along the shores. After scrutinizing the bay’s geology and history for years, one scientist calculated giant waves happen there once every quarter century—a 1 in 9000 chance on any given day. This rock avalanche occurred during the warmest year on record in Alaska. The tsunami reached 524 m above sea level on the opposite shoreline and killed two people in a small boat. Glacier Bay and its inlets are a popular destination for cruise ships and passenger boats; about 540,000 people visited Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (GBNPP) in 2017. Lituya Bay is an ice-scoured tidal inlet with a maximum depth of 722 feet (220 m). Existing digital data on landslide occurrence are held by a range of Federal, State, and local government agencies, and no central point of access has previously been available. Photo courtesy of Paul Swanstrom, Mountain Flying Service. USGS scientists want to answer these questions: The USGS investigation determined where landslides could start and where they could travel within GBNPP. In the confines of Glacier Bay, a locally generated tsunami could produce massive waves that slosh up the hillsides in bathtub fashion. A cruise ship in the Johns Hopkins Inlet with a June 28, 2016 rock-avalanche deposit on the Lamplugh Glacier, Glacier Bay, Alaska. The largest recent landslide in GBNPP was a 2016 rock avalanche on the Lamplugh glacier with the equivalent volume of roughly 28,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The results indicate that Landslide A has shown little to no movement, with less than an inch of change. Get more information on the interagency web site, "Barry Arm Landslide and Tsunami Hazard.". It is a T-shaped bay with a width of 2 miles (3 km) and a length of 7 miles (11 km). An interesting find emerged during the study—Bathymetry data used during the research revealed a previously hidden landslide at the junction of Johns Hopkins and Tarr inlets that appears to have occurred sometime after 1892 when glaciers withdrew from the area. The areas of destroyed forest along the shorelines... [+] are recognizable as the light areas rimming the bay. I'm a freelance geologist working mostly in the Eastern Alps. Der Glacier-Bay-Nationalpark (englisch Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve) ist ein Nationalpark der USA im Süden von Alaska, in der Nähe von Juneau, im sogenannten Alaska Panhandle. I graduated in 2007 with a project studying how permafrost, that´s frozen soil, is reacting to the more. Local legends record even earlier events, predating modern explorers and scientists by centuries. Zwei dieser Stürze werden von Arbeitsgruppen untersucht, mit denen Dr. Anja Dufresne vom Institut für Ingenieurgeologie zusammenarbeitet. The impact generated a local tsunami that crashed against the southwest shore… If this landslide were to fail and move rapidly into the fjord, it could trigger a tsunami that would threaten local communities. With the recognition that these conditions pose a possible risk to GBNPP visitors, USGS landslide scientists recently completed an investigation and published a 2019 report in the NPS “Alaska Park Science” series that provides an initial assessment of areas where landslides could enter the water of Glacier Bay and generate tsunamis. Juli dieses Jahres kam es um 22 Ortszeit an der Fairweather-Bruchline (58.340 N; 136.520 W), die sich nordwestlich der Bucht befindet, zu einem Erdbeben der Stärke 8,3 auf der Richterskala, dessen Epizentrum knapp dreizehn Meilen von Lityua Bay entfernt lag. AN UNPRECEDENTED 'mega-tsunami' could be caused by a melting Alaska glacier, scientists have warned. 2018). In addition, the National Weather Service National Tsunami Warning Center is working to put a tsunami warning system in place. Bis zu einer Höhe von 520 Metern wurden die … AN UNPRECEDENTED 'mega-tsunami' could be caused by a melting Alaska glacier, scientists have warned. There is evidence that they are increasing in size and travel distance. More recently, in 2015, a rock avalanche in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve about 300 kilometers northwest of GBNPP, travelled about 5 kilometers into Taan Fiord, and generated a tsunami that ran about 190 meters up the shoreline. Glacier Bay and its inlets are a popular destination for cruise ships and passenger boats; about 540,000 people visited Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (GBNPP) in 2017. A giant, catastrophic tsunami in Alaska triggered by a landslide of rock left unstable after glacier melting is likely to occur in the next two decades, scientists fear - and it could happen within the next 12 months. A landslide on the Lamplugh Glacier, in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, on June 28 caused seismic tremors about as strong as a small earthquake. In Alaska’s 1964 earthquake, most deaths were from tsunamis … Until now, no Federal agency has taken on the monumental task of systematically cataloging landslide occurrence across the United States. The October 2015 Tyndall Glacier rock avalanche caused one of the largest historic tsunamis in Alaska; maximum wave runup height measured from field evidence was 192 m (Haeussler et al. The earthquake occurred along this fault, triggering a rockfall from the mountains. Geological evidence, historical observations, and even myths suggest that such megatsunami are quite common along the Gulf Of Alaska. In collaboration with State geological surveys and other Federal agencies, the USGS has compiled much of the existing landslide data into a searchable, web-based interactive map called the U.S. USGS landslide scientists recently completed an investigation that provides an initial assessment of areas where landslides could enter the water of Glacier Bay and generate tsunamis. Tsunami-inducing landslides are rare but have occurred in Alaska and elsewhere. Studying therefore old maps, photographs and reports, I became interested in the history of geology and how early geologists figured out how earth works, blogging about it in my spare time. The concerned experts claim the catastrophic event could even happen within the next 12 months if melting ice triggers a landslide of unstable rocks. Although landslide-generated tsunamis are historically uncommon in GBNPP, there have been plenty of landslides in and near the park, and some of them have produced tsunamis. Howard Ulrich, a fisherman visiting Lituya Bay with his 8-years-old son that day, at first heard a loud rumbling noise from up at the head of the bay, followed a moment later by what he describes as "an atomic explosion." Still, Alaskans should understand the risk and follow advice from emergency managers to prepare for a tsunami in the unlikely event that one occurs. The most recent satellite data were obtained between July 13 and August 13. Local, state, and federal partners are working to understand the likelihood of rapid movement of the landslide, to put in place a tsunami warning system, and to educate people about steps to take should such a tsunami occur. But geology is more than a historic or local science, as geological forces shaped and still influence history worldwide. Trees washed away be the wave along the slopes of the Gilbert Inlet, on the opposite shore, suggests a maximum wave height of 1,720 feet, taller than the Empire State Building in New York. Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), Mapping, Remote Sensing, and Geospatial Data, August-September 2020 issue of the Sound Waves newsletter, USGS scientists recommended more fieldwork, Interferometric synthetic aperture radar data from 2020 for landslides at Barry Arm Fjord, Alaska, Potential Landslide Paths and Implications for Tsunami Hazards in Glacier Bay, Alaska – An Initial Investigation, Mountain Permafrost, Climate Change, and Rock Avalanches in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska. 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. In October 2019, the USGS unveiled a new web-based interactive map that marks an important step toward mapping areas that could be at higher risk for future landslides. Lituya Bay is a fjord located on the Fairweather Fault in the northeastern part of the Gulf of Alaska. On the night of July 9, 1958, an earthquake along the Fairweather Fault in the Alaska Panhandle loosened about 40 million cubic yards (30.6 million cubic meters) of rock high above the northeastern shore of Lituya Bay. Areas with the most potential for landslides entering the water (where they could possibly generate waves that could affect boats) are the Johns Hopkins, Tarr, Rendu, and Tidal Bay Inlets. Aerial photo of Lituya Bay showing traces of the 1958 tsunami in the vegetation regrown decades... [+] after the event. The landslide loosened some 40 million cubic yards of debris spawned a … Ice and water from the glacier contributed to the tsunami generated by the sudden impact on the surface of the sea. In May 2020, a large but slow-moving landslide, known as the Barry Arm landslide, was discovered 31 miles from Whittier, AK, on Prince William Sound. Im Park gibt es über 50 benannte Gletscher, 7 davon reichen bis in das von den Gezeiten beeinflusste Wasser der von Fjorden wie dem Tarr Inlet durchzogenen, Glacier Bay genannten Bucht (Gletscher-Bucht). I deal with the rocky road to our modern understanding of earth. Perhaps the most famous occurred on July 9, 1958, in Lituya Bay on Alaska’s southeast coast, when a nearby earthquake caused 40 million cubic yards of rock to slide 2,000 feet into the narrow bay. Although tsunamis often travel across the open ocean at speeds in excess of 300 mph, they may pass under ships without being noticed. The tsunami reached 524 m above sea level on the opposite shoreline and killed two people in a small boat. French explorer Jean-François de La Pérouse who explored Alaska in 1786, noted that the shores of Lituya Bay "had been cut cleanly like with a razor blade," suggesting that a tsunami occurred shortly before his arrival. Juli 1958 verursachte ein Erdbeben einen Erdrutsch am östlichen Ende (landeinwärts gelegen), bei dem 90 Millionen Tonnen Gestein und Eis in die Bucht stürzten. Although there have been at least 90 M>4 earthquakes within 100 kilometers of Glacier Bay since 1958, none have been large or close enough to trigger landslides in the Park. Mega-tsunami hundreds of metres tall feared if Alaskan glacier disappears ... creating a tsunami wave potentially hundreds of metres high. A melting Alaska glacier could trigger an unprecedented ‘mega-tsunami,’ scientists have warned. Photo credit: Gabe Wolken. Since public safety is the priority, the USGS and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys have been remotely monitoring movement of the large landslide (Landslide A), a smaller landslide (Landslide B), and the northwest-facing slope on the opposite side of Barry Glacier every 24 days using satellite radar images. Smaller tsunami, with a maximal wave height of 20 feet, were recorded in the Yakutat Bay, Disenchantment Bay, Dry Bay, Glacier Bay, Inian Island, Skagway and Dixon Harbor. I graduated in 2007 with a project studying how permafrost, that´s frozen soil, is reacting to the more visible recent changes of the alpine environment. “Although landslides occur in every State, our understanding of landslide hazards at the national scale is limited because landslide information across the United States is incomplete, varies in quality, accessibility, and extent, and what is known is not collected in a central location,” said Jonathan Godt, USGS program coordinator for Landslide Hazards. Icy Bay, Alaska. Dort brechen häufig über 50 Meter hoh… Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. This mass of rock plunged from an altitude of approximately 3000 feet (914 meters) down into the waters of Gilbert Inlet (see map below). Seen from above Lituya Bay and its two glaciers appears shaped like the letter T, a particular shape caused by the Fairweather Fault, crossing the end of the bay from southeast to northwest. It originated above land, but most of the deposit is underwater in Glacier Bay. Dramatic footage shows a huge chunk of glacier dropping into the sea and triggering a wave in Alaska. Diese enorme Menge hatte einen Megatsunami zur Folge. What areas of Glacier Bay can have landslides. It … I'm a freelance geologist working mostly in the Eastern Alps. Additional radar images will be compared throughout the coming months until snowpack obscures the slope faces. It’s unknown whether or not it created a tsunami, but its size makes it the largest known landslide within GBNPP. EY & Citi On The Importance Of Resilience And Innovation, Impact 50: Investors Seeking Profit — And Pushing For Change, Michigan Economic Development Corporation BrandVoice. Landslide Inventory Map. Estimated 40 million cubic yards of rock fell for 3,000 feet hitting the Lituya Glacier. With increased effects of climate change predicted for the future, it is important to investigate the potential impacts to landslide hazards and any associated risks to park visitors. Die entstehenden Felsstürze bedecken Gebiete zwischen 5,5 und 22,2 Kubikkilometern. 2017; Dufresne et al. See the data in the report, "Interferometric synthetic aperture radar data from 2020 for landslides at Barry Arm Fjord, Alaska.". Lituya Bay, on the west side of the park (part of Glacier Bay National Monument in 1958), has experienced at least 3 tsunamis, the largest occurring in 1958 from an M7.8 earthquake on the Fairweather fault that triggered a rockslide. In recent years, there has been a spate of large landslides in GBNPP that corresponded to record-breaking warm temperatures in Alaska. Yellow dots show how high the tsunami reached above water level (runup) in meters. © 2020 Forbes Media LLC. Researchers have also completed other surveys of the landslide areas. Melting glaciers in Prince William Sound in Alaska could lead to a mega tsunami, scientists have said. 2018; Higman et al. 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. There is clearly more work to be done to understand the risk posed by these natural hazards. In the past 150 years Lituya Bay has had three other … According to the legends, qa-htu-‘a still there, ready to send another deadly tsunami at any time. Based on this initial investigation, USGS scientists recommended more fieldwork to determine geologic conditions that control landslide occurrence and size, systematic monitoring of steep slopes to detect slow movements or deformations that could possibly provide warning of landslide events, and tsunami modeling to determine the boat size that could be threatened by landslide-generated waves. The moment was captured from a day cruise boat out … Within Glacier Bay National Park, a slope on the north side of Tidal Inlet has been slowly moving since at least the early 1900s, but has ... (For a graphic depiction of the relative size of Alaska's largest tsunami-generating landslides, see this letter.) Im Glacier Bay National Park in SE Alaska sind laut unseren Kollegen Coe et al. A 2018 article “Landslides and Giant Waves” by the National Park Service (NPS) states, “... We usually hear about landslides and avalanches that are caused by large amounts of rainfall, the shaking from earthquakes, or a volcanic eruption, but we may be hearing more about avalanches caused by the (seemingly innocuous) melting of ice in the coming years. A tale told by the native Tlingit Indians locates a mysterious cave deep below Lituya Bay. If someone dares to disturb its sleep, it will violently shake the land and the sea. The concerned experts claim the catastrophic event could even happen within the next 12 months if melting ice triggers a landslide of unstable rocks. Aerial view of Barry Arm Fjord and glacier on June 26, 2020, showing outlines of potential landslide areas. Rock avalanches are particularly dangerous because they involve large volumes of earth material, they can move long distances (>1 kilometer), and they can travel very fast (up to 100 meters per second). (Getty) Melting glaciers in Alaska could unleash a ‘mega-tsunami’, an enormously high wall of water with incredible destructive power, scientists have warned. In 1958, a landslide into Alaska’s Lituya Bay created a 524-meter wave – the tallest ever recorded. Another boat with two persons on board vanished without a trace into the open sea, carried away by the tsunami. A typical tour of the Bay traverses the entire length of the Bay to the glacier calving viewpoints in the Johns Hopkins and Tarr Inlets. Is the unstable slope in Barry Arm moving now? However, there is no evidence a significant failure is imminent, or that one will happen anytime soon. A typical tour of the Bay traverses the entire length up to the glacier calving viewpoints in the Johns Hopkins and Tarr Inlets. Gigantic waves will catch the intruder, transforming it into a bear, common animals in the Alaskan wilderness. Satellite image of the Lituya Bay in Alaska. Lituya Bay a few weeks after the 1958 tsunami. Living in one of the classic areas of early geological research, I combine field trips with the historic maps, figures and research done there. Lituya Bay, on the west side of the park (part of Glacier Bay National Monument in 1958), has experienced at least 3 tsunamis, the largest occurring in 1958 from an M7.8 earthquake on the Fairweather fault that triggered a rockslide. The two arms that create the top of the T-shape of the bay are the Gilbert and Crillon inlets and are a part of a trench on the Fairweather Fault. The seven miles long and two miles narrow Lituya Bay was protected from waves by two promontories, separating it from the open sea, and a popular fishing spot for locals at the time. Lituya Bay’s steep walls, the geometry of its seafloor, and the fact that it intersects a fault that is often a source of earthquakes suggests that Lituya Bay will see more tsunamis in the future. 4 At the beginning of the 20th century, the bay entrance was permanently blocked by a giant tidewater glacier face that calved icebergs directly into the Gulf of Alaska. are recognizable as the light areas rimming the bay.

glacier bay, alaska tsunami

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