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Inundation of Whitianga town during the 1960 Chilean tsunami

On this page: about this report, read or download the report

Report: TR 2014/65

Author: B Morris & J Borrero

About this report

This report combines written and verbal eyewitness reports with survey and modelling information to arrive at an estimated inundation area for the 1960 Chilean tsunami in Whitianga. The report has been completed as a part of the Eastern Coromandel Tsunami Strategy - an ongoing, multi-year project that works with communities on the eastern Coromandel Peninsula to identify and reduce the risks from tsunami events.

The report aims to

  • enhance the existing understanding of inundation effects of the 1960 Chilean tsunami event on Whitianga town
  • provide further verification of recent modelling work to underpin future tsunami modelling
  • raise awareness of the effects of tsunami inundation from distant tsunami events and the profile of tsunami hazard risk management within the Whitianga community.

It is anticipated that this report will also provide for a greater level of public awareness of the impacts of tsunami in Whitianga, and the need to prepare for these events.

Read or download the report

Inundation of Whitianga town during the 1960 Chilean tsunami (7mb)


  Executive summary
1 Purpose and expected outcomes
2 Background
2.1 Importance of tsunami risk management
2.2 Coromandel East Coast tsunami hazards
2.3 The Eastern Coromandel Tsunami Strategy
2.4 Whitianga tsunami project
2.5 Benefits and use of this report
3 Methodology
4 Overview of 1960 Chilean earthquake and its effects on New Zealand
5 Impacts of 1960 Chilean tsunami on Whitanga town
5.1 Previously published accounts
5.2 Eyewitness accounts
5.3 Survey of post-tsunami debris line inundation level
5.3.1 Overview
5.3.2 Survey results
5.3.3 Survey interpretation
5.4 Whitianga town inundation modelling
5.4.1 Comparing model results to eyewitness accounts
5.4.2 Qualitative comparison of modelled inundation to historical accounts
6 Conclusions on the extent of 1960 Chilean tsunami inundation in Whitianga
  Appendix 1: Howard Pascoe's written account
  Appendix 2: Bruce Smith's written account
  Appendix 3: Photo locations around Whitianga