ABSTRACT

Lituya Bay, a ⊺-shaped tidal inlet on the northeast shore of the Gulf of Alaska, heads in the trench along the Fairweather fault. Displacement along this fault at the time of the earthquake of July 9, 1958 (local time), triggered a rockslide into deep water in Gilbert Inlet, one of the two arms at the head of Lituya Bay. The rockslide, with a volume of 40 million cubic yards, caused water to surge to an altitude of 1,740 feet on a spur opposite the point of impact, and generated a gravity wave that swept 7 miles to the mouth of the bay at a speed probably between 97 and 130 miles per hour. The surge and wave of water destroyed the forest on the shores over an area of 4 square miles, sank two of three fishing boats in the outer part of the bay, and took two lives.

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