Observations from the Mollendo Area

Playa Mollendo
Checked the beach to the south of town. There was a debris line just over the natural beach berm. After asking a local resident about the day of the earthquake we learned that there was a withdrawal of the sea here, but no positive wave. She said the water never came over the berm on the day of the tsunami, but it does come over the berm when the swell is large and the tide is high. Since there had been quite large surf and full moon high tides over the past few days, this was what probably left the debris line. Other witnesses in the area, those with clear views of the ocean from their slightly elevated homes, all reported seeing a significant withdrawal of the sea after the quake, but no positive wave of any consequence, not enough to overtop the berm.

Just south along the coast from Mollendo. Same story, no positive wave. However, at least one resident has built a structure ready for a tsunami! (photo above, far right)

Punta de Bombom
A large rounded river mouth point area, about the same size as the river mouth area near Camana. A very similar set up with mountains a few km from the coast and farmland in the valley going right to the sea. The bridge going to the other side of the valley was out (photo above, left), so access from Mejia to Bombom was over a temporary bridge a few miles inland and up and over the ridge on the other side. A 30-min trip took 1.5 hrs. Getting to Bombom, we found the same story, no evidence of a tsunami greater than the normal tide fluctuation. Locals reported seeing the water recede, but no positive wave. There was extremely strong shaking, reported by the local farm workers and evidenced by the numerous liquefaction sand boils throughout the fields. One of the men we talked to said the shaking was very strong and that the sound of the earthquake came very distinctly from the west-northwest, the direction of Ocoña and Camana. He described it as a series of 'booms' that came in from the sea, passed under him in the field and continued inland to the mountains. He said when the shock hit the mountains clouds of dust billowed up from the barren slopes. The liquefaction boils bubbled out of the ground some 6 inches and flowed black water. He said they were too scared to check to see if the water was salty or fresh (go figure!). He also said he had his family evacuate to the statue of Christ on the hill overlooking the town when he saw the water retreat, but that he stayed behind to care for the animals.

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