It hasn't happened yet,  or did it once before? 

compiled by Dee Finney

updated 09-09-09

tsunami-Tonga - 3-19-09
quake San Diego - 3-24-09
tsunami - Indonesia - dam breaks - 3-26-09


3-15-09 - NAP DREAM  3:45 p.m. -  I was sitting on the lawn in front of my house on 16th St. in Milwaukee.  I saw a woman way down the street waving high in the air and waving a dog leash at me to get my attention.  Meanwhile,  Joe was out in front of the house, putting our dog Lily into the car using a red leash.

The woman kept walking towards me waving the dog leash and I knew it couldn't be mine because I just saw Joe putting Lily into the car with our red dog leash.   The woman just kept coming closer and closer and she wouldn't take, "No!", or "It's not ours as an answer, and she gave it to us anyway.  This leash was a long one and it was dark pink.

She sat down on the lawn next to me and we talked about how it was possible for a dog leash of ours to get way down the street, and I knew it wasn't mine.

All of a sudden, there was a tiny baby laying on the lawn as well, and it was just wiggling a bit, so I picked it up.  It was very small. 

I looked at it's eyes, and one eye was twisted sideways like a doll's eye can get in the socket, and I saw an owl on one side of the eye, and the eye ball next to it, and all of a sudden, the eye flipped, and there was a picture of a large owl in the eye socket.  I must say I was very unsettled by it.  Then the eye righted itself, and it became a real eye again.

The baby was very fussy and I knew it was hungry and it would need to be fed.  I wondered where its mother was and then  I remembered that I had a dream about eight puppies being born a couple weeks ago, and wondered if this one one of those puppies, but it looked quite human except for the eye that had gotten messed up for a few minutes.

I felt the urge to nurse the baby, but it wasn't my baby, yet it needed to be fed, so I took the baby to the car to take it to the store to get what I needed to take care of an infant so tiny.

When  I opened the car door,  I woke up but before I was fully awake, I heard a voice in my left ear say, "What about the catastrophe on South Way Beach?"

NOTE:  I got up off the sofa and came to my computer to look up Southway Beach and South Way Beach , and there was nothing, but kept offering me South Bay Beach near Los Angeles.  It said it was the most oppulent community in the United States.

But what about the catastrophe?

Date: April 02, 2009 at 01:33:57
From: Chuckles,
Subject: It's too late, said Jesus!


I posted this dream vision several months ago here. I was in Sonoma County near the coast when I looked over and I saw Jesus looking at me as I was trying to get to the mountains as I knew something was going to happen soon. Jesus said "don't go". I turn to look back towards the mountains getting ready to go again when Jesus said "don't go, it's too late" then suddenly the ocean surged in covering everything and then receded. Everyone who stay near him was safe. In all my dreams visions of Jesus, this is the 1st time he ever spoke to me. So I knew this was a very important message given to me.

09-09-09 -

Hi Betty:  I think you are right. 
Here is how my dream ended:
When  I opened the car door,  I woke up but before I was fully awake, I heard a voice in my left ear say, "What about the catastrophe on South Way Beach?"

NOTE:  I got up off the sofa and came to my computer to look up Southway Beach and South Way Beach , and there was nothing, but kept offering me South Bay Beach near Los Angeles.  It said it was the most oppulent community in the United States.

But what about the catastrophe?

So yours is  Long Beach. 

I hope this doesn't freak you out like it's freaking me out.  Long Beach and South Bay Beach are virtually the same place.  If you look on google-earth or this map;

You can see both places on the same map at the same time. 

We  need to post this right away, and warn everyone we know in that area.  Something is going to hit there very soon.


In a message dated 9/9/2009 10:40:16 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, Betty writes

Dee, if you think it is pertinent, then do add it.  The letters spelling her name came at me sort of zig-zagging starting out small then getting large right before my eyes as if slapping me in the face with them.  The letters were 6-8 inches high and very specific, Lillian York.  Was this the old woman who came to me in the dream with the message that something imminent was in the future for her hometown?

From: "" <>
Sent: Wednesday, September 9, 2009 1:30:52 PM

I found it interesting that you were told the dream and were given the name so you could find the woman.

What is more interesting is that your dream was about Long Beach, and the one I had was about South Bay Beach. I had mine in March: and posted it at:

Maybe I should add your dream to my page?


In a message dated 9/9/2009 6:13:01 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, betty writes:

Last night I dreamed of an old woman in a faded blue dress with matching cap that came down over her face. She came to my house and said that she was hungry and that her back hurt. She had a big hump on her back and wanted me to massage it. I laid her down on my bed and told her I would go get her some food. When I went toward the kitchen on the first floor, the hall had about six inches of water in it and I had to wade through it. There were a bunch of people in the house.

As I awoke this morning, I saw in very big letters the name "Lillian York"  I don't know anyone named that so I googled it and this is what I found right off:

Founding Families Of Long Beach
Hart, George Albert and Lillian (York)

He was born in Vermont in 1881 and his parents came to Long Beach in 1891. He has been a practicing attorney in the city since 1905. He married Lillian S. York and they have a son George A Hart Jr. who is also an attorney. The family is well known throughout the City and are active in civic and cultural affairs.

From Official Souvenir Program, Long Beach, Ca.
Diamond Jubilee, November 1st Through 30th, 1963
Courtesy of Historical Society of Long Beach
Donated by The Southern California Genealogical Society
Transcribed by Julie Appletoft
March 2008
------------ --------- --------- ------

The letters came floating towards me and the name got bigger and bigger.

Something ominous for Long Beach, CA.

____________ _________ _________ __
9-10-09 - 

I dreamed that a voice said, "120 degrees today in Long Beach" on 9/10/09 and was going to reply to Betty that maybe she was dreaming about another big earthquake in Long Beach like the one on March 10, 1933. Because hot weather is called "earthquake weather" in Los Angeles. It wouldn't get that hot in Long Beach in real life because it's on the ocean. In the same dream I passed the Stewart's farm and saw a red cow with a cat's head


NOTE:  120 degrees doesn't always mean temperature -  it could be longitude or latitude as well.


Since 1812, the California coast has had 14 tsunamis with wave heights higher than three feet; six of these were destructive. The Channel Islands were hit by a big tsunami in the early 1800s. The worst tsunami resulted from the 1964 Alaskan earthquake and caused 12 deaths and at least $17 million in damages in northern California.

The 1992 Cape Mendocino earthquake produced a one foot tsunami that reached Humboldt Bay about 20 minutes after the shaking. Although not damaging, this tsunami demonstrated that locally generated tsunamis can reach our coastline quickly. Had the earthquake lasted longer, the wave heights would have been higher. Evidence suggests that large earthquakes capable of producing local tsunamis recur every two or three hundred years.


A tsunami is a series of sea waves most commonly caused by an earthquake beneath the sea floor. In the open ocean, tsunami waves travel at speeds of up to 600 miles per hour. As the waves enter shallow water, they may rise rapidly. The waves can kill and injure people and cause great property damage where they come ashore. The first wave is often not the largest; successive waves may be spaced many minutes apart and continue arriving for a number of hours.


If a large earthquake displaces the sea floor near the coast, the first waves may reach the shore minutes after the ground stops shaking. There is no time for authorities to issue a warning.


Tsunami waves may also be generated by very large earthquakes in the Pacific Ocean. These waves reach the California coast many hours after the earthquake. The Tsunami Warning Center alerts local officials, who may order evacuation. Those in isolated areas may not hear official evacuation announcements. A sudden drop or rise in sea level may be a warning of impending danger. Move inland or to higher ground immediately.


Tsunamis can occur at any time of day or night, under any and all weather conditions, and in all seasons. Beaches open to the ocean, bay mouths or tidal flats, and the shores of large coastal rivers are especially vulnerable to tsunamis.


Typical peak wave heights from large tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean over the last 80 years have been between 21 and 45 feet at the shoreline. A few waves, however, have been higher locally- as much as 100 feet in a few isolated locations.

The best general advice available today is to:

Go to an area 100 feet above sea level, if possible, or go up to 2 miles inland. If you can not get this high or far, go as high and far as you can. Every foot inland or upwards may make a difference.

Go on foot if at all possible because of traffic, damage to roads, downed power lines, and other earthquake debris.


A major tsunami-producing earthquake will likely shake the ground strongly for at least 20 seconds. Get into the habit of counting how long the earthquake shaking lasts. If you count 20 seconds of strong ground shaking, evacuate as soon as it is safe to do so.

If evacuation is impossible, the third floor or higher of a reinforced concrete building may offer protection, but such a building should be used only as a last resort.


1.Make disaster plans now. Talk to the people you live with about what may happen during a strong earthquake. If you live or work in a low-lying coastal area, know where to go to survive a tsunami. Hold earthquake/tsunami drills at home or at work.

2.Assemble a portable disaster supply kit. Have a kit available in your car, at home and at work. Your kit should include a portable radio with fresh batteries, water, first aid supplies, flashlight, and extra clothes or a blanket. Put your kit in a backpack and leave it in a convenient place.

3.Contact local emergency officials. Find out what areas are most vulnerable to tsunami hazards, which areas are safe, and which routes are best for evacuation.

4.Take a first aid class. Learn survival skills, talk with your family, friends and neighbors. Knowledge is your greatest defense against any potential disaster.

5.Join a neighborhood emergency response team. Contact your local Office of Emergency Services to learn whether there is such a program in your city or county. Or start one in your own neighborhood.













Tsunami alert

by David Rosenfeld
Published April 14, 2005

Scientists fear a landslide in the mile deep Redondo or Palos Verdes canyons, triggered by an earthquake, could generate a tsunami that would deluge the beach cities. Illustration courtesy of the United States Geological Survey
Scientists say if an earthquake strikes hard enough to knock people in the South Bay off their feet, an underwater cliff off the coast of Palos Verdes with a roughly 2,000-foot vertical drop could give way and trigger a tsunami that would inundate the beach cities.

The worst-case scenario would send 40-foot waves into the South Bay coastline in less than 10 seconds, according to scientists who use computers to map out the scenario.

In Redondo Beach, the surge would put King Harbor under water and crest over the Esplanade bluff, deluging homes.

Scientists fear a landslide in the mile deep Redondo or Palos Verdes canyons, triggered by an earthquake, could generate a tsunami that would deluge the beach cities. Illustration courtesy of the United States Geological Survey" 

In Manhattan Beach, swells would wash over multi-million dollar homes on The Strand then continue up two blocks to Highland Avenue.

Hermosa, whose Strand homes and downtown are just a few feet above sea level, would fare far worse.

The scene would not be as horrific as in Southern Asia last December, but it would be devastating for those close to the beach. There would be no air raid sirens or other public warnings to alert people except for the earthquake’s sudden jolt.

Southern California has warning systems in place for tsunamis generated a great distance away that would alert residents hours in advance. But there is no warning system for a “near source” tsunami.
“People will have to react and recognize that if the ocean suddenly recedes it is not a good time to go tide pooling,” said Redondo Beach Fire Captain Bob Engler.

Following the tragic Southern Asia tsunami, Engler and other fire department officials throughout Southern California stepped up their efforts to prepare for a local tsunami.

Adding urgency to the effort was the 3.4 Richter scale earthquake four miles offshore of Manhattan on March 22. Costas Synolakis, director for the USC Viterbi School of Tsunami Research, said the local quake is “cause for alarm.”

“It shows that some faults are more active than we thought. If a tsunami happens on a Sunday afternoon with thousands of people on the beach, it’s a problem,” Synolakis said.

Synolakis and other scientists, including Mark Legg of Legg Geophysical in Huntington Beach, said that a local earthquake greater than magnitude 6.5 on the Richter scale could trigger a landslide in the Palos Verdes canyon or the 1,500-feet-deep Redondo Canyon that would displace enough water to produce a tsunami.

"A big offshore earthquake could be the worst natural catastrophe this nation has ever seen," Legg said. "People have short memories. How many people 40 years from now will remember about tsunamis?"

Several nearby faults pose a serious quake threat, including the Palos Verdes fault, which runs through the peninsula north to south and into the ocean on either end. A fault running from Newport to Inglewood could also trigger a slide off Palos Verdes. The Newport to Inglewood fault was responsible for the 1933 quake that registered 6.25 on the Richter scale and destroyed much of downtown Long Beach.

A 2002 report by Synolakis, Legg and Jose Borrero concluded that a quake triggered by The Catalina Fault on the west side of Catalina could produce an offshore landslide that would result in surges of up to eight feet in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Parts of San Diego County’s coastline could also be at risk as well as South Bay beach cities.

Synolakis and others also co-wrote an article in the current issue of Civil Engineering magazine in which they concluded that Long Beach would suffer the worst damage in the event of a tsunami formed by a landslide off Palos Verdes. They did not analyze affects to the South Bay beach cities. But damage to Los Angeles harbor and the low-lying areas of Long Beach and Orange County could range from $7 billion to $42 billion, not including human life, the report states. The scientists hope the information will help officials determine how much they are willing to spend on a warning system and other protective measures.



Tsunami risks close to home

April 19, 2005

With its offshore faults and low-lying beach areas, Southern California has been hit by tsunamis in the past and will always be at some risk. In a worst-case scenario, experts say, up to 75,000 people could die. Here are the three types of geological events that researchers say could one day send a flood of ocean water our way:

1. Local underwater hazards

The Catalina fault is a prime local tsunami hazard. A big quake there could push up the seafloor, displacing water that would swamp the shoreline. Such a quake might also have a domino effect, triggering tsunamis as a result of undersea landslides closer to shore in one of the following hazard zones:

Point Dume: Offshore wall shows signs of having failed in the past. Low-lying areas from Malibu to Santa Monica could flood.

Redondo Canyon: Collapse of the canyon walls could flood low-lying areas. Inundation zones might include Marina del Rey and the shores of Santa Monica and the South Bay beach cities.

Palos Verdes Canyon: Inundation from an offshore collapse could stretch from the Los Angeles-Long Beach port area to Sunset Beach in Orange County. Santa Catalina Island might also be affected.

Historical tsunamis in California:

*--* Run-up* Source of Date Location in feet tsunami Aug. 31, 1930 Redondo Beach- 20 Uncertain Santa Monica Aug. 21, 1934 Newport Beach 39.4 Uncertain March 28, 1964 Crescent City 20 9.2 quake, Gulf of Alaska Oct. 18, 1989 Moss Landing 3.3 7.1 quake, Loma Prieta Nov. 4, 2000 Santa Barbara 16.4 Uncertain County *--*

*Water height above sea level. Some measurements may be estimates.

2. Subduction under the Pacific Northwest

The Cascadia subduction zone in the Pacific Northwest is similar in its potential for major earthquakes to the one off Sumatra that caused the devastating tsunami in December. A big quake along the Cascadia fault could affect areas throughout the Pacific, including California. Here is a comparison of the two continental shelves: (see graphic)

3. A faraway quake

Historically, the tsunami threat in the Pacific Ocean is greatest as a result of a major quake in Chile, Alaska or Japan. A large enough quake could pose a danger to the West Coast of the United States.

The Dec. 26 quake off Sumatra created a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that flooded shorelines thousands of miles away.

Sources: USC Tsunami Research Center, Governor's Office of Emergency Services, California Geological Survey, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, NOAA, USGS, Caltech, Southern California Earthquake Data Center, Associated Press. Graphics reporting by Cheryl Brownstein-Santiago

For other recent regional explainer graphics, go to


Hermosa joins free disaster rescue program for animals

If a tsunami or other major disaster strikes Hermosa Beach, there's not just the people to consider, there are the pets that could be abandoned by the hundreds in the event of a citywide evacuation.

With the city's cramped kennel facilities suitable for just a handful of pets, Hermosa Beach is ill-prepared to handle a surge of four-legged friends during emergencies like the fire that hit Malibu earlier this week, city officials say.

So, this week, Hermosa Beach became the first South Bay city to sign up with animal rescue organization Noah's Wish, a Sacramento- based nonprofit that steps in and tends to lost and injured animals during crisis situations nationwide, for as long as needed

Charts on the pdf.

Good luck to those surfers.  :-(





Magnitude 7.9 TONGA REGION

Tsunami Warning Issued After 7.9 Magnitude Quake Hits South Pacific

Thursday, March 19, 2009

NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga —  A strong 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck Friday near Tonga, generating a tsunami with the potential of striking coastlines in the South Pacific, officials said. There were no immediate reports of damage.

The quake struck about 130 miles south-southeast of the Tongan capital of Nuku'Alofa at a depth of 6.2 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Police in the Tongan capital, Nuku'alofa, said there were no immediate reports of injury or damage.

Local resident Pesi Fonua said the quake "lasted for something like 20 seconds," but "I haven't seen any damage from it."

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for Tonga and neighboring islands, and reported that sea level readings have confirmed that a potentially destructive tsunami wave was generated by the quake.

Local radio stations in Tonga broadcast warnings that a tsunami was possible and that people should move away from coastal villages, but police and locals said no big wave had been reported.

Police spokesman Niua Kama said residents did not appear to take the warning seriously.

"People are out on the roads, laughing at the warning," he told The Associated Press. "They are not moving from the coast" even though there had been "a strong warning of a tsunami. Police have not taken any action at this stage."

Related Stories

The tsunami center also advised that some coastal areas of Hawaii could see a rise in sea level and strong currents lasting up to several hours.


Thursday, March 19, 2009 at 18:17:37 UTC

Theoretical P-Wave Travel Times

This map shows the predicted (theoretical) travel times, in minutes, of the compressional (P) wave from the earthquake location to points around the globe. The travel times are computed using the spherically-symmetric IASP91 reference earth velocity model. The heavy black lines shown are the approximate distances to the P-wave shadow zone (103 to 140 degrees).
Theoretical P-Wave Travel Times
City Distance
Travel Time
Arrival Time
Wellington, New Zealand 20.21 4:35.0 18:22:12.0 P
Brisbane, Australia 29.43 6:03.7 18:23:40.7 P
Honolulu, Hawaii 47.05 8:31.6 18:26:08.6 P
Agana, Guam 53.71 9:22.0 18:26:59.0 P
Tokyo, Japan 72.51 11:27.0 18:29:04.0 P
Palmer Station, Antarctica 76.38 11:49.5 18:29:26.5 P
San Francisco, California 77.95 11:58.3 18:29:35.3 P
Los Angeles, California 78.16 11:59.5 18:29:36.5 P
Phoenix, Arizona 81.95 12:20.0 18:29:57.0 P
Seattle, Washington 84.76 12:34.4 18:30:11.4 P
Mexico City, Mexico 84.97 12:35.5 18:30:12.5 P
Anchorage, Alaska 86.31 12:42.1 18:30:19.1 P
EARTHQUAKE on 19/03/2009 at 18:17 (UTC)
TONGA REGION                           182 km S  Ohonua


Data provided by: BGSG GFZ  NEIC PTWC                              

Latitude    =  22.97 S
Longitude   = 174.76 W
Origin Time =  18:17:36.2 (UTC)
Depth       =  10 Km
RMS         =   1.22 sec
Gap         =  58 degrees
95% confidence ellipse: - Semi major = 10.2 Km
                        - Semi minor = 5.5 Km
                        - Azimuth of major axis = 124 degrees

Number of data used = 93

Preliminary location computed on Thu Mar 19 18:36:54 2009 (UTC)
Done by Julien VERGOZ

Message number: 1165

All magnitudes estimations :
Mw7.6 (BGSG)  M 7.7 (GFZ)   M 7.9 (NEIC)  Mw7.7 (PTWC) 

P.S.: For additional information, please contact EMSC at:
             - Email:
             - Web  : (maps available)
             - Fax  : 33 1 69 26 70 00



Rare undersea volcano continues to erupt near Tonga

4:57PM Thursday Mar 19, 2009


An undersea volcano erupts off the coast of Tonga, blasting smoke into the sky. Photo / AP

Volcanic eruption in Tonga

NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga - Scientists are sailing to inspect an undersea volcano that has been erupting for days near Tonga - shooting smoke, steam and ash thousands of metres into the sky above the South Pacific ocean.

Authorities said on Thursday the eruption does not pose any danger to islanders at this stage, and there have been no reports of fish or other animals being affected.

Spectacular columns are spewing out of the sea about 10km from the southwest coast off the main island of Tongatapu - an area where up to 36 undersea volcanoes are clustered, geologists said.

Trade winds continued to blow gas and steam away from the island Thursday.

Tonga's police deputy commander Taniela Faletau said coastal villages close to the roiling ocean site were not yet at risk and that no warnings had been issued.

Police were waiting for a government team of officials and scientists to survey the area and report on their observations before taking any action.

Coastal residents said the steam and ash column first appeared on Monday morning, after a series of sharp earthquakes were felt in the capital, Nuku'alofa.

"This is not unusual for this area and we expect this to happen here at any time," said Keleti Mafi, Tonga's geological service head.

The underwater eruption was taking place near the low-lying twin volcanic islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai, and within sight of the capital, Nuku'alofa.

Large amounts of pumice thrown up by the erupting volcano would likely clog beaches on the southern coast of nearby Fiji islands within a short time, Mafi said.

Tonga, a 170-island archipelago about halfway between Australia and Tahiti, is part of the Pacific "ring of fire" - an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching from Chile in South America through Alaska and down through Vanuatu to Tonga.

- AP

Underwater volcano created a new island in Pacific Ocean
Date: Friday, March 20, 2009, 6:14 AM

From The Times
March 20, 2009
Underwater volcano sends huge columns of ash into Pacific sky
A spectacular underwater volcanic eruption spewing smoke and gas thousands of feet into the sky has created a new island in the Pacific Ocean.
The volcano began erupting on Monday and ejected so much lava that by Wednesday it had formed the island about seven miles off the coast of Tongatapu, the main island of Tonga. Satellite pictures revealed the new island still shrouded by smoke, and a huge raft of pumice floating about two miles north of the eruption.
Last night the island was rocked by a 7.9 magnitude earthquake, causing the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre to issue a warning for neighbouring islands:
“This tsunami may have been destructive along coastlines of the region near the earthquake epicentre. Authorities in the region should take appropriate action in response to this possibility.” There were no reports of any damage or casualties on Tonga’s main island and the alert was later cancelled.
Professor Simon Turner, a geochemist at Macquarie University in Sydney, warned that if the volcano continued to erupt it had the potential to be devastating: “Underwater volcanoes can be violent, and have a strong climatic effect. This one isn’t getting into the stratosphere yet but as it continues to grow that is a possibility.”
The island is likely to last several months or even a few years, but will eventually be eroded away by the waves. It is formed of pumice, a type of rock created when lava and gases erupt in comparatively shallow water and are rapidly cooled and fragmented. Being so aerated, the rock is light enough to float.
Ian Wright, of the National Oceanographic Centre in Southampton, said that the eruption was taking place in a volcanic arc in the Western Pacific called the Ring of Fire. Several chambers of magma are thought to be feeding the Tongan volcano.
A team of scientists are on their way to observe the eruption and measure its impacts, including calculating the size of the new island.
A similar eruption two years ago at Home Reef in the Tongan archipelago resulted in a small island being created. Some of the pumice blown out in the eruption floated more than 1,200 miles to reach Australia.
4.7-magnitude earthquake shakes California

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — A moderate, 4.7-magnitude earthquake shook southern California Tuesday, according to the US Geological Survey, with no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The tremor hit at 4:55 am (1155 GMT), 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) underground, centered some three miles (four kilometers) from Bombay Beach, which is on the Salton Sea, a large lake in the Salton Sink desert basin, the USGS reported.

The town is some 90 miles (144 kilometers) east of San Diego.

Geologists say an earthquake capable of causing widespread destruction is 99 percent certain of hitting California within the next 30 years.

A study published last year said a 7.8 magnitude quake could kill 1,800 people, injure 50,000 more and damage 300,000 buildings.

A 6.7 earthquake in Los Angeles in 1994 left at least 60 people dead and caused an estimated 10 billion dollars in damage, while a 6.9 quake in San Francisco in 1989 claimed 67 lives.

See map at:


Indonesian dam collapse disaster leaves 100 dead

By Patrick O'Connor
26 March 2009

A dam in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, burst early Friday morning, destroying hundreds of homes in the densely populated Cireneu suburb. The official death toll stands at 97; another 102 people are officially listed as missing.

The number of missing persons could be higher, however, as many of the area's residents are believed to be university students temporarily renting rooms without any registration or record. Rescue services spokesman Priyadi Kardono told the media on Saturday that he feared most of the missing were killed by the three-metre wave that crashed through the low-lying residential area.

About 1,600 people are reportedly homeless. An estimated 190 people are being treated in hospital; the health ministry has also reported that other survivors are suffering from diarrhoea, respiratory infections, skin rashes and fever caused by unclean drinking water and cold temperatures.

Many observers compared the impact of the dam disaster with the 2005 tsunami. At least 300 houses were flattened and another 200 flooded; cars, telegraph poles, and other debris were swept kilometres away. Most of the victims were sleeping when the dam burst at about 4 a.m.

Local resident Ghufron, a 17-year-old student, told the London Times: "By the time I woke up the water was up to my nose. I climbed to the roof to save myself. I heard people screaming and shouting." A 63-year-old man, Cecep Rahman, lost his wife, his son and daughter-in-law, and their daughter. "I heard a crashing sound and looked out my window," he said. "The tide was so strong, like a tsunami. They were swept away. There was nothing I could do."

Some of the survivors were women who had left their homes before dawn to go to market; their husbands and children are now among the missing.

The 10-metre high Situ Gintung dam was built in 1933 by the Dutch colonial authorities to contain the Pasanggrahan River. Holding 2 million cubic metres of water, the dam lake was a popular recreational spot for Jakarta residents. According to one report, the dam was kept at dangerously high levels in order to support this recreational use.

The adjacent residential area was home to many workers, and students at the nearby Muhammadiyah University Jakarta, whose flimsy wooden residences were smashed by the rushing flood waters.

"More affluent estates are built on higher land with high walls while homes nearer to the lake are at the mercy of the strength—or precisely the lack of strength—of the dam," the Jakarta Post explained. "The poorer households in the area around the lake are only a stone's throw away from those better-off residents, and the surrounding roads are used daily by motorists and office workers heading to and from nearby affluent districts."

Residents denounced the authorities for failing to properly maintain the ageing dam and heed numerous warnings of leaks and structural damage. "We first found leaks at the sluice gate in early 2007," local man Taufik said. "We reported it to Pak Naseh, an official at the Tangerang regency Irrigation Agency, who controls the lake." There was no official response.

During heavy rains last Thursday, residents noticed growing damage to the sluice gate. An overflowing current of water then began undermining the ageing embankment walls. "By 9 p.m. the situation became worrying," one resident, Mulyadi, told the Jakarta Post. "We told people to vacate their homes."

This was at least five hours before the dam burst. Most residents in neighbourhood units (RT) 1, 2, and 3 had evacuated to higher ground, but those in the low-lying RT 4 were apparently not alerted in time. Most of the casualties are believed to be from this area.

"A lot of new homes were being built near the dam," local man Supeje Sugeng said. "I believe that may have caused the earth making up the dam to loosen. I saw water seeping through since midnight. When it broke, it was sudden and it sounded like thunder."

Sodikun said he saw his own home washed away. "Four neighbourhoods consisting of 200 houses were swept away by the flood," he told Xinhua. "You can imagine how many people lived there. Most victims lived in the downstream area. They were still sleeping [when the flood came] and nobody alerted them."

Decades of government neglect and underfunding are responsible for the Situ Gintung dam disaster.

Erwin Rustam, of the Indonesian Environmental Forum, told the Antara news agency that of the 184 dams in the greater Jakarta area, just 19 are in good condition, while the rest are experiencing serious shallowing and damage. Shallowing caused by sedimentation has reduced the average reservoir depth from 5-7 metres to less than 3 metres, leaving them more vulnerable to overflow during Indonesia's wet season. In addition, the number of catchment areas has been reduced, placing greater pressure on those remaining. According to Rustam, 56 dammed lakes in the greater Jakarta area have been reclaimed since 2004, with the land used as business centres and rubbish tips.

The 76-year-old Situ Gintung dam was among many requiring major redevelopment. Its earthen wall collapsed after heavy rains overflowed its banks. Public works official Subandrio Pitoyo told the Los Angeles Times that had the dam wall been made of concrete it would have withstood the pressure. Even routine maintenance work was neglected in recent years. Janjaap Brinkman, a Dutch water expert with Delft Hydraulics told Australia's ABC Radio that governmental reforms aimed at decentralising authority had led to confusion as to who was responsible for the dam's upkeep.

Authorities have rushed to deny responsibility. Rustam Pakaya, head of the health ministry's crisis centre, was asked whether the disaster was due to lack of maintenance and repair. "No, no," he replied. "This is a natural, natural disaster." Tangerang Deputy Regent Rano Karno added: "We should not blame each other, because this is a disaster."

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Vice President Jusuf Kalla, and a number of government ministers have visited the site. Yudhoyono pledged to support the victims and to securely rebuild Situ Gintung dam. This display of sympathy was driven by political calculations rather than any genuine concern for the victims; Indonesia's legislative election will be held on April 9 and the presidential vote is scheduled later this year.

The government's contempt for ordinary people was demonstrated by the neglect of the dam's maintenance, the authorities' refusal to heed the warnings of local residents, and the lack of any disaster preparations or warning system.

Reports Warn of Tsunami Danger

A year after the catastrophic Indian Ocean tsunami, two new reports conclude that California is still a long way from protecting its residents from earthquake-generated waves.

While risk of a major tsunami is not as big as that of a large earthquake striking on land, seismic safety experts and seismologists said California has failed to adequately prepare for the rush of water that would follow a big ocean-based temblor.

Recent work by British and American scientists even raises questions about the most basic approach California officials are taking to tsunami preparation. Their research indicated that the waves generated by a massive underwater quake could be three times as high as previously believed -- potentially creating a much larger disaster than state officials have been planning for.

Scientists comparing the fault zone that caused the Indian Ocean tsunami -- which reached 60 to 80 feet in places -- with a similar region off the coast of the Pacific Northwest say that California, Oregon and Washington could be vulnerable to 100-foot waves.

By contrast, West Coast cities and states have been preparing for waves about 33 feet high, based on computer models of a breach along the Cascadia subduction zone, which runs nearly 700 miles along the coast and is capable of producing a magnitude 9.2 temblor.

But even those plans have huge gaps, according to a report released Monday by the California Seismic Safety Commission, with few realistic evacuation plans for coastal cities, inappropriate building codes for coastal zones and little understanding among the population about what to do in the event of a catastrophic rise in ocean level.

The findings are sober news and come after a major temblor off the Northern California coast last spring prompted a local tsunami alert. But some police and fire departments complained the state was slow in bringing them word about the alert, making it difficult to decid whether to issue evacuation orders. No damage was reported from that quake.

More than a million people in California live in areas that would be flooded by a tsunami, and another million visit the state's beaches on a typical summer day, according to the Seismic Safety Commission report. While the cliffs along much of the state's coastline -- including significant portions of the Southern California coast -- would keep many seaside homes and businesses out of the way of high waves, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach would be vulnerable, the report said.

"Tsunamis, generated either locally or from events elsewhere in the Pacific Basin, pose a significant threat to life and property in California," wrote the Seismic Safety Commission in its report.

High waves could knock out the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for as long as two months, costing about $60 billion. Water would pour over the docks and terminals, which were built just nine feet above the mean high seawater level, the report said.

There have been 80 tsunamis in California over the past 150 years, and geological records show previous swells reached heights of 60 feet or more.

A gigantic quake and tsunami on the Cascadia is a relatively rare event, happening about once every 500 years. The last one was about 300 years ago, and the next could happen "anywhere from tomorrow to 200 years from now," said seismologist Lucy Jones, a Seismic Safety Commission member. (By contrast, experts expect a significant quake along the San Andreas Fault within the next 30 years).

But subduction zones in Alaska, Chile, Japan and other places have frequently produced smaller tsunamis, and experts say even a five-foot wave can be deadly, creating massive undertows, ripping ships from their moorings and flooding low-lying areas.

Evacuations would be difficult, because most Californians have not been taught to recognize the signs of an impending tsunami, or what to do should one occur.

The indications are simple, said Jones, who is scientist-in-charge for the U.S. Geological Survey in Southern California: a long earthquake felt near the beach, after which the water recedes.

"You need to know that if you have a five-minute earthquake, there will be a tsunami," Jones said. "That's inevitable

Beachgoers who feel a quake and see the water recede should run several blocks inland, Jones said. They should stay away for at least 12 hours, because tsunamis are really a series of waves that can last for hours.

But evacuating crowded beaches can be complicated.

Beachgoers in coves at the base of cliffs would have to fight each other to get up ramps and rickety stairways to higher ground. People in low-lying areas would have to retreat far inland or find tall buildings to climb.

The state has hired scientists at USC to prepare maps showing areas that would be flooded in a tsunami. These maps are supposed to be used to develop evacuation plans for local communities.


Underwater landslides cause most tsunamis

The most important cause of tsunamis is not mid-ocean earthquakes but underwater landslides just off shore, according to geophysicists presenting research at the American Geophysical Union Meeting in San Francisco.

This realisation not only makes the giant waves harder to predict, it also shortens the warning time seaside dwellers will have once prediction becomes possible.

"We are experiencing a change in paradigm from being primarily concerned with distant tsunamis to local tsunamis," says Costas Synolakis, a tsunami geophysicist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Seismic slip

The shift in thinking began two years ago after a 10-metre wave killed 2200 coastal villagers in Papua New Guinea.

The earthquake just beforehand measured 7.1 on the Richter scale but was still too small to cause such a wave. Since then, however, ocean surveys have mapped a vast underwater landslide just a few kilometres offshore that was probably triggered by the quake.

When a large volume of rock detaches and slides downhill, water is dragged in behind it from all sides and collides in the middle. This then sends a great wave radiating out.

While the resulting wave may not have enough power to reach across the ocean as waves generated by mid-ocean quakes do, the local effects can be devastating.

Gary Greene of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California, has mapped a 10-kilometre group of underwater landslides in the Santa Barbara Channel north of Los Angeles.

One of these, possibly triggered by an earthquake, may have been the cause of an 1812 tsunami in Santa Barbara, Greene says.

Rain danger

Even heavy rain could trigger a tsunami. In 1994, runoff from torrential downpours released a chunk of offshore escarpment near Skagway, Alaska. This sent a wave crashing 11 metres up on land.

The lead time before a slide-induced wave hit shore can be very short. Philip Watts, president of Applied Fluids Engineering, a company in Long Beach, California, estimates that beach-goers near his office would have only 24 minutes to reach high ground in the event of an offshore landslide.

The uncertainties surrounding the causes and effects of underwater landslides leave much work to be done, Watts says. "We are still a long way from a comprehensive warning system for tsunamis."

More at: New Scientist magazine mega-tsunami feature.

See also: New Scientist magazine feature on continental tsunamis in 18 December issue.

If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to..


Pacific Tsunami Threat Greater Than Expected

Posted on: Monday, 20 July 2009, 08:51 CDT

The potential for a huge Pacific Ocean tsunami on the West Coast of America may be greater than previously thought, according to a new study of geological evidence along the Gulf of Alaska coast.

The new research suggests that future tsunamis could reach a scale far beyond that suffered in the tsunami generated by the great 1964 Alaskan earthquake. Official figures put the number of deaths caused by the earthquake at around 130: 114 in Alaska and 16 in Oregon and California. The tsunami killed 35 people directly and caused extensive damage in Alaska, British Columbia, and the US Pacific region*.

The 1964 Alaskan earthquake – the second biggest recorded in history with a magnitude of 9.2 – triggered a series of massive waves with run up heights of as much as 12.7 meters in the Alaskan Gulf region and 52 meters in the Shoup Bay submarine slide in Valdez Arm. 

The study suggests that rupture of an even larger area than the 1964 rupture zone could create an even bigger tsunami. Warning systems are in place on the west coast of North America but the findings suggest a need for a review of evacuation plans in the region.

The research team from Durham University in the UK, the University of Utah and Plafker Geohazard Consultants, gauged the extent of earthquakes over the last 2,000 years by studying subsoil samples and sediment sequences at sites along the Alaskan coast. The team radiocarbon-dated peat layers and sediments, and analyzed the distribution of mud, sand and peat within them. The results suggest that earthquakes in the region may rupture even larger segments of the coast and sea floor than was previously thought.

The study published in the academic journal Quaternary Science Reviews and funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the US Geological Survey shows that the potential impact in terms of tsunami generation, could be significantly greater if both the 800-km-long 1964 segment and the 250-km-long adjacent Yakataga segment to the east were to rupture simultaneously.

Lead author, Professor Ian Shennan, from Durham University’s Geography Department said: “Our radiocarbon-dated samples suggest that previous earthquakes were fifteen per cent bigger in terms of the area affected than the 1964 event. This historical evidence of widespread, simultaneous plate rupturing within the Alaskan region has significant implications for the tsunami potential of the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific region as a whole.

“Peat layers provide a clear picture of what’s happened to the Earth. Our data indicate that two major earthquakes have struck Alaska in the last 1,500 years and our findings show that a bigger earthquake and a more destructive tsunami than the 1964 event are possible in the future. The region has been hit by large single event earthquakes and tsunamis before, and our evidence indicates that multiple and more extensive ruptures can happen.”

Tsunamis can be created by the rapid displacement of water when the sea floor lifts and/or falls due to crustal movements that accompany very large earthquakes. The shallow nature of the sea floor off the coast of Alaska could increase the destructive potential of a tsunami wave in the Pacific.

Earthquake behavior is difficult to predict in this region which is a transition zone between two of the world's most active plate boundary faults; the Fairweather fault, and the Aleutian subduction zone. In 1899 and 1979, large earthquakes occurred in the region but did not trigger a Tsunami because the rupturing was localized beneath the land instead of the sea floor.

Prof Ron Bruhn from the University of Utah said: “If the larger earthquake that is suggested by our work hits the region, the size of the potential tsunami   could be significantly larger than in 1964 because a multi-rupture quake would displace the shallow continental shelf of the Yakutat microplate.

“In the case of a multi-rupture event, the energy imparted to the tsunami will be larger but spread out over a longer strike distance. Except for the small communities at the tsunami source in Alaska, the longer length will have more of an effect on areas farther from the source such as southeastern Alaska, British Columbia, and the US west coast from Washington to California.”

Warning systems have been in place on the US western seaboard and Hawaii since the 1946 Aleutian Islands tsunami. Improvements were made following the 2004 earthquake under the Indian Ocean that triggered the most deadly tsunami in recorded history, killing more than 230,000 people.

Prof Shennan said: “Earthquakes can hit at any time of the day or night, and that’s a big challenge for emergency planners. A tsunami in this region could cause damage and threaten life from Alaska to California and beyond; in 1964 the effects of the tsunami waves were felt as far away as southern California and were recorded on tide gages throughout the Pacific Ocean.”

Dr George Plafker from Plafker Geohazard Consultants said: “A large scale earthquake will not necessarily create a large wave. Tsunami height is a function of bathymetry, and the amount of slip and dip of the faults that take up the displacement, and all these factors can vary greatly along the strike.

“Tsunamis will occur in the future. There are issues in warning and evacuating large numbers of people in coastal communities quickly and safely. The US has excellent warning systems in place but awareness is vital.”

Research paper (includes map of single and multi-segment ruptures): Multi-segment earthquakes and tsunami potential of the Aleutian megathrust. Ian Shennan a,*, Ronald Bruhn b, George Plafker c Quaternary Science Reviews: Volume 28, Issues 1-2, January 2009, Pages 7-13


Image 1: Sediment section exposed at the top of the present storm beach of ‘The Forgotten Coast’ of Alaska, east of Cape Yakataga. Ron Bruhn, University of Utah, stands on the top of the section: Copyright Ian Shennan

Image 2: Close up of the sediment section in image 1: The sharp, horizontal boundary, represent a change from beach sand (light brown, coarse texture) to grey mud. Fossils and radiocarbon dating show it to be sediment laid down in a lagoon or shallow lake 1500 years ago. The interpretation is that an earthquake caused uplift of at least 2m, instantaneously raising a beach environment to above high tide level, allowing a freshwater lagoon or shallow lake to develop: Copyright Ian Shennan

Image 3: The Forgotten Coast, Alaska. The vegetation differences reflect the underlying soil, trees growing on the more sandy ridges. The ridges and hollows reflect old beach ridges and dune, uplifted above sea level during great earthquakes: Copyright Ian Shennan

Image 4: A view of Mt. St Elias and Icy Bay. The region is marked by North America's greatest alpine and piedmont glaciers and is an enigma in the study of plate tectonics and great earthquakes because of structural complexity in the transition from strike-slip to subduction plate boundaries, and its remoteness: Copyright Ian Shennan

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