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How High Do Ocean Waves Get?

Earthquakes are known to generate tsunamis and high waves in general. The single tallest wave ever recorded was a tsunami in 1958 that was about 100 feet (30 meters) tall and was generated in Lituya Bay, Alaska. The wave was caused by an earthquake and subsequent landslide, which involved about 40 million cubic yards of rock falling 3000 feet into the ocean. Scientists also believe that water from a nearby lake may have been displaced by the earthquake and helped to generate the wave.

The tsunami reached as high as 1720 feet above sea level when it hit the shore and completely stripped the affected land of vegetation. While five deaths were recorded, loss of life and property was minimal because there were no settlements near the path of the wave.

More about waves:

  • There are several eyewitness accounts of the Alaskan mega-tsunami from fishermen who managed to survive by riding their vessels over the wave as it passed.
  • Professional big wave surfers will chase storm fronts and optimum conditions for big waves in order to break world records. They have surfed waves as high as 78 feet or more.
  • The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, which claimed almost 230,000 lives, is considered the most deadly in recorded history.
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