On March 28, 1964, a magnitude 9.2 earthquake in Alaska unleashed a destructive tsunami across the Pacific Ocean, and it caused damage along Vancouver Island’s west coast. In Port Alberni, 58 properties, including homes and businesses, were completely destroyed, with an additional 320 dwellings suffering minor to severe damage. Fortunately, no deaths occurred in Canada.
Canada had been participating in the US Seismic Sea Wave Warning System since 1961 by providing, on request, seismic readings to help locate and assess tsunami-causing earthquakes, as well as tide-gauge readings of tsunami heights. In 1965, Canada was a founding member of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Tsunami Warning in the Pacific. This built upon the US warning system, and marked a new international recognition of tsunami hazard in the Pacific Ocean.
The Geological Survey of Canada continues to contribute seismic data to the tsunami warning centres. Today, real-time seismic data are streamed over the Internet making tsunami warnings faster and more accurate. The Survey also continues to conduct research into tsunamis. It published Canada’s first national-scale tsunami hazard maps in 2013.
Kong, L.S.L., Dunbar, P.K., and Arcos, N. (ed.), 2015. Pacific Tsunami Warning System: A Half century of protecting the Pacific, 1965-2015; International Tsunami Information Center, Honolulu.
Leonard, L.J., Rogers, G.C., and Mazzotti, S., 2014. Tsunami hazard assessment of Canada; Natural Hazards, v. 70, p. 237–274. doi:10.1007/s11069-013-0809-5
White, W.H.R., 1966. The Alaska earthquake – its effect in Canada, Canadian; The Geographical Journal, v. 72, p. 210–219.