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NEMO Remembers… 1755 Tsunami

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Tuesday, November 1, 2005 – The Saint Lucia Disaster Diary for 2005 ends with a Tsunami.  The 250th Anniversary, set on the scale of the Asian Tsunami of 11 months ago this 8.9 earthquake produced fires and tsunamis that killed thousands.  With no warning the tsunami arrived on the coastline of the Caribbean islands and wrecked havoc.


In the morning of November 1, 1755, a large earthquake struck Lisbon... It was Sunday and the religious holiday of All Saints. Most of Lisbon's population of 250,000 were praying in six magnificent cathedrals… The main shock of the great earthquake struck Portugal at 9:40 in the morning of November 1, 1775. At that time, there were no instruments to record or measure earthquakes but experts have estimated that the magnitude of the Great Lisbon Earthquake must have been 8.6 or even greater.


It took less than an hour for this first tsunami to reach Morocco and Algiers, and about 7 hours to reach the Caribbean and the U. S. East coast.

Remarkable tsunami waves and effects were recorded and reported everywhere, on both sides of the Atlantic. Waves up to 60 feet in height hit a vast area stretching from Finland to North Africa and across the Atlantic to Martinique and Barbados causing much destruction and loss of life.

Antilles, Antigua, Martinique, and Barbados:

The tsunami crossed the Atlantic Ocean, reaching the Antilles in the afternoon. Reports from Antigua, Martinique, and Barbados note that the sea first rose more than a meter, followed by large waves.

… [it is] estimated that the offshore deep water tsunami amplitudes along the USA coast and the Caribbean must have been about 2 meters high with periods of 1.25 to 1.5 hours. The maximum tsunami runup on the shore would have been about 10 feet (about 3 meters).


In their Preliminary List of Caribbean Tsunamis/Caribbean Tsunamis: An Initial History James F. Lander and Lowell S. Whiteside indicate that


Waves of amplitude 7 m were observed at Saba, 3.6 m at Antigua and Dominica, 4.5 m at St. Martin, leaving a sloop anchored in 4.6 m of water was left laying broadside on the dry bottom, 1.5-1.8 m at Barbados, where the wave had a period of 5 minutes and the water was black as ink… At Martinique, at some places the water was reported to have withdrawn for 1.6 km and at other places it flowed into the upper level rooms of the houses. The lowlands on most of the other French Islands were inundated. []


NEMO takes this opportunity to remind the public that Saint Lucia is vulnerable to many hazards and though storms are recurrent we need to be prepared for all manner of hazards.




Note to the press.

Extracts taken from:


For further information may we suggest an interview with a rep from:


The Archaeological Society at 1 ( 758) 452-3182


Stacey Edwards of the Seismic Research Unit at 868-662-4659

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