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 drawdown 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 m came in four
destructive surges reaching as far as 1.2 km inland. The dashed line marks the
approximate area of tsunami inundation. Thousands of buildings were destroyed,
and the combined earthquake and tsunami killed as many as 139 people.
This image (ISS004-E-6128) was taken by astronauts onboard the International Space Station on 10
January 2002. It shows some of the reasons that the Camaná area was so
vulnerable to tsunami damage. The area has a 1 km band of coastal plain that is
less than 5 m in elevation. Much of the plain can be seen by the bright green
fields of irrigated agriculture that contrast with the light-colored desert high
ground. Many of the tsunami-related deaths were workers in the onion fields in
the coastal plain that were unwilling to leave their jobs before the end of the
shift. A number of lives were spared because the tsunami occurred during the
resort off-season, during the daylight when people could see the ocean drawdown,
and during one of the lowest tides of the year.
Information on the Tsunami that hit Camaná can be found in a reports on
the visit by the International Tsunami Survey Team
and the USC Tsunami Research Lab.
Earthquake Epicenter, Peru shows
another image of the area.
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This image originally appeared on the Earth Observatory. Click here to view the full, original record.