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Major Tsunamis of 1992 - Nicaragua and Indonesia
browse graphic At 7:16 p.m. on September 1, 1992, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 generated a tsunami with waves between eight and fifteen meters high that struck twenty-six towns along 250 km of Nicaragua's Pacific coast. More than 40,000 people were affected by the loss of their homes or means of income. The waves left 116 dead, 63 missing, and another 489 injured. Tsunami inundation of 1,000 meters was reported at Masachapa, where at least 15 people were killed. The tsunami caused an estimated US $25 million in damage and losses. Fifty-three percent of this damage occurred to housing. Commerce, tourism, fishing, water supplies, waste disposal, electricity, and port infrastructure also were damaged. Low income people suffered the most, incurring the loss of homes, fishing boats, and sources of income. The earthquake epicenter was located at 11.8 deg N and 87.4 deg W, about 120 km west-southwest of the city of Managua. The earthquake was caused by the interaction of the Cocos and Caribbean tectonic plates, and occurred within a seismic gap located along the intersection of those plates. Several aftershocks of decreasing magnitude followed. The unusual wave height and destructiveness of the tsunami resulted from the relatively shallow earthquake depth and a subterranean landslide. The tsunami moved rapidly toward the Nicaragua coast arriving at some coastal locations just twenty minutes after the earthquake. The tsunami occurred in the evening when the fishing boats were docked; many of them were lost or damaged by the waves. Several tourist centers, including hotels and other commercial establishments, were damaged and two schools were destroyed. The ecology of the coastal area was affected as the waves and high salinity sea water destroyed plants, fish, turtles, and fish and turtle eggs. The December 1992 Tsunami in Indonesia On December 12, 1992 at 05:29 UT a 7.8 surface wave magnitude earthquake occurred in the Flores region of Indonesia (8 deg 31' S, 121deg 54' E). Flores Island is located about 1,800 km east of Jakarta. The death toll as a result of the combined earthquake and tsunami effects was more than two thousand. This includes 1,490 at Maumere and 700 on Babi Island. (About one-half of the deaths were attributed to the tsunami.) More than 500 people were seriously injured and 90,000 left homeless. In addition, 28,118 houses, 785 school buildings, 307 mosques, and 493 store and office buildings were destroyed or damaged. Nineteen people were killed and 130 houses were destroyed on Kalaotoa. Severe damage occurred at Maumere with 90 percent of the buildings destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami. Damage also occurred on Sumba and Alor. Tsunami inundation of 300 meters with wave heights of 25 meters were reported on Flores Island along with landslides and ground cracks at several locations around the island. The maximum tsunami runup height of 26.2 m was measured at Riangkroko where 163 people lost their lives. Severe coastal erosion occurred during the tsunami, exposing eroded coral complexes and lowering coastal land surfaces. Coastline areas were characterized by the deposition ofextensive and continuous sediment sheets up to one meter in thickness. Wave reflection off Flores Island may have been partially responsible for the devastation on Babi Island. This Flores event was catastrophic in terms of human casualties and property damage, resulting from the earthquake and the tsunamis. However, the event also provided much information about the geophysical, geological, and engineering aspects of tsunamis and has enhanced our overall knowledge of tsunamis and their effects.