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MARQUESAS ISLANDS

 

The great Aleutian tsunami of April 1st, 1946, was a catastrophic event of global proportions. Not only did this giant wave devastate portions of the coastline in the Aleutians, but it spread across the Pacific causing extreme damage in Hawaii and substantial wave activity in the Marquesas.

On our first trip to the Marquesas in October 1999 to investigate reports of a recent locally generated tsunami, we were able to learn something about the effect of the wave from 1946. Stories heard from the locals were spectacular, with reports of extensive flooding, strong surges and large coral boulders deposited hundreds of meters inland. These reports prompted a return to the Marquesas in August of 2000 to gather eyewitness accounts from April 1st 1946 and to record their observations quantitatively.

In our two trips we were able to visit all 6 inhabited Marquesas Islands.