Thursday, December 11, 2008

La Manzanilla Tsunami - 1995

Taken from a University of California Campus web site that studies Tsunami's and who knows how long an old web page will stick around. This is the core of the article with a link to the original web page on the bottom where you can check other results of the same earthquake from Boca de Iguanas to Manzanillo.

The photos you are about to see are quite interesting. It is very rare that a person with a camera is present when a Tsunami strikes. It is even more rare to have that person stand in the path of the oncoming wave and snap photos of the wave coming in. In the case of the Manzanillo tsunami, that just happened. Jose Martinez, the tortilla maker of the town of La Manzanilla likes to take pictures. He always has his camera ready with film in it for whatever might be going on in his town. On October 9, 1995, something very special happened.

First, imagine feeling a very strong earthquake. The shaking may last a few minutes, but when it stops, everything seems to be all right. Your family is safe, your home is still standing. Just a big quake you think to your self. As you begin to clean up, you hear shouting from the beach. The water is flowing out of the bay! How is that possible? What is going on? The water recedes further and further until the rocks which normally sit 200 meters offshore in 4 meters of water are now completely dry and exposed.

This is the first shot, the rising water can be seen in the distance, a fringe of whitewater and a few people running from it. In La Manzanilla the wave came in just slower than a person can run, this was fortunately, no one was killed in La Manzanilla. Note the white building at the water's edge.

In the second shot, the wave has come in much further. The photographer has moved back about 50 yards between the first and second shots. The water is now past the central plaza (which is visible on the right side of the first shot). In this shot the central plaza is about where the painted palm trees are in the distance on the right.

The water has risen to its maximum level and is beginning to recede. Thankfully, this tsunami was not very violent. The water rose more like a rapid tide that didn't know when to quit, rather than a raging wall of water. The photo below is of the town hall of La Manzanilla.

The foto below is of Boca de Iguana where the devastation was extensive and reminiscent of Playa Popollo in Nicaragua, including debris wakes behind buildings. Uncorrected runup heights here at least 6m and the wave penetrated to at least 480m inland.


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La Manzanilla, a village of approximately 1,500 indigenous and winter residents, is located in the southwest corner of the state of Jalisco along what is known as Costalegre (Costa Alegre) or the "happy coast".

Palapa Joe's
Visit La Manzanilla
Sparks Costalegre
La Manz Beach Cam
La Manzanilla Board