Tsunamis From Peru

The waters off the Peruvian coast, have generated several large and destructive tsunamis during the past 400 years. Tsunamis in this area of the world originate due to seismic activity associated with the Peru-Chile Trench, located approximately 100 - 200 kilometers off the Peruvian coast. At this latitude, the Peru-Chile trench is the site of subduction of the Nazca Plate beneath the South American Plate. As with the other subduction zones of the world, the extreme compressive forces on the landward side of the trench produce reverse faults in the crust of the over-riding plate. Motion along these reverse faults during earthquakes uplift large sections of the sea floor, which produces tsunamis. Fortunately, for the Peruvians, the subduction zone off the Peruvian coast is not as active as that of neighboring Chile, to the south; but large, tsunamigenic earthquakes do occur here.

Tectonic research, as well as historical earthquake data, indicate that the area of the subduction zone of f of the southern half of Peru's coast is more active, than to the north. As a consequence most of the large, tsunamigenic earthquakes to strike Peru in the past, were centered off of the southern shore.

The historical tsunamis link below, provides accounts of several of the largest and most destructive tsunamis generated in the waters off the Peruvian coast. The 1868 Arica tsunami link includes a detailed account of the tsunami as described by the captains of several United States Navy ships in port at the time of the event. The 1996 Chimbote tsunami link presents data collected during the field survey conducted following this tsunami, and describes the event in detail. Please click on one of the three links below to find out more.


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