The tsunami which reached islands of the Samoan group at approximately 2035 hours local time, 22 May 1960, was undoubtedly one of the largest that has been recorded in the group. Generated by a large earthquake off the coast of Chile (near 41 °S, °W) at 1911 hours Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), 22 May, the tsunami was responsible for widespread damage throughout the Pacific.
This paper discusses observed features of the tsunami at various locations in the three principal islands of the Samoan group, and Tables 1-3 summarize this data in approximate chronological order. Table 4 tabulates seismic data recorded at Afiamalu, Western Samoa, on 21, 22, and 25 May, GMT. Table 5 presents a brief résumé of previous tsunamis recorded in the group.
The characteristics of the tsunami observed at Rarotonga in the Cook Islands are also described.