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Deadly Tsunami in Andes Lake, Peru

Posted by feww on April 13, 2010

Tsunami in Mountain Lake

Massive glacier breaks off in Peru plunging into a lake, causing a 23-meter (75-foot) tsunami, Killing 3

A massive glacier broke off in the Andes creating a huge tsunami wave in a lake, sweeping away at least three people and destroying a water filtration plant that served 60,000 people, government officials said, Reuters reported.

A Lake Pehoé view of Torres del Paine, Chile. Credit: Miguel.v

A massive chunk of ice measuring about 500m by 200m (1,640 feet by 656 feet) broke off from Hualcan glacier tumbling down into a lake in the Andes mountain range near the town of Carhuaz, about 320km (200 miles) north of the capital, Lima. At least three people were buried in debris, Reuters reported the officials as saying.

Carhuaz city is located about 35 km from Huaraz, the capital city of a province with the same name, and one of twenty provinces of the Ancash Region in Peru.

“This slide into the lake generated a tsunami wave, which breached the lake’s levees, which are 23 meters high—meaning the wave was 23 meters high,” said Patricio Vaderrama, an expert on glaciers at Peru’s Institute of Mine Engineers.

The incident prompted the officials to evacuate the nearby mountain valleys in case more breakages were to follow, the report said.

“It was one of the most concrete signs yet that glaciers are disappearing in Peru, home to 70 percent of the world’s tropical icefields. Scientists say warmer temperatures will cause them to melt away altogether within 20 years.” The report said.

“In 1970, not far from Carhuaz, an earthquake triggered an avalanche of ice, rock and mud on the mountain of Huascaran that buried the town of Yungay, killing more than 20,000 people who lived below Peru’s tallest peak, which sits 22,204 feet [6,768m] above sea level.”

In the last 3 decades or so Peru’s glaciers have shrunk by 22 per cent, causing  12 per cent reduction the amount of fresh water that reaches the coast, where most of the Peruvians live, according to a report published by World Bank last year.

Glacial Lake Palcacocha, Cordillera Blanca, Peru. This lake generated a deadly glacial lake outburst flood in 1941 that destroyed part of the city of Huaraz and killed 5,000 people. Note the two security dams in the foreground of the photograph. Given that millions of people in mountain ranges worldwide live in valleys below glaciers, there is a risk of glacier disasters in many countries. Glacier hazards have become more acute with recent global climate change and as populations in glacier watersheds increase.Photo by Mark Carey (2003). Source.

Fire-Earth Moderators believe the glacier breakage may have been hastened by a 5.4Mw earthquake which occurred about 106km SSW of Carhauz, Peru, on March 28, and possibly the more recent seismic activity in northern Peru.

EMSC Map of Earthquake Location, Peru, with the approximate position of Hualcan glacier marked by Fire-Earth. Click image to enlarge.

Summary of Earthquake Details:

  • Magnitude: 5.4Mw
  • Date and time 2010-03-28 at 01:08:25.3 UTC
  • Location: 10.17ºS ; 78.13ºW
  • Depth: 67 km
  • Distances:
    • 133 km SE Chimbote (pop 316,966 ; local time 20:08 2010-03-27)
    • 12 km S Huarmey (pop 16,172 ; local time 20:08 2010-03-27)
  • Source:  European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre

Related Events

Original Caption Released with Image [edited for brevity.]
A chunk of glacier was threatening to fall into an Andean lake and cause major flooding in a Peruvian city of 60,000. A fissure has appeared in the glacier that feds Lake Palcacocha near the city of Huaraz, 270 km north of Lima. If the piece breaks off, ensuing floods would take 15 minutes to reach the city. In 1941, the lake overflowed and caused massive destruction, killing 7,000 people. The city can be seen in the lower left part of the two images, acquired
[November 5, 2001 and April 8, 2003.] Lake Palcacocha is in the upper right corner of the image at the head of a valley, below the snow and glacier cap. The inset image shows an enlargement of the lake and the glacier occupying the cirque valley above it. The images are being provided to the Peruvian authorities and geologists to help them assess the state of the glacier, and compare the recent image with historic data.

These images were acquired on November 5, 2001 and April 8, 2003 by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite. Image source: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

High Res Image: Click Here

Latest Update: 4 people are missing and more than 50 were injured as a result of the tsunami wave.

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5 Responses to “Deadly Tsunami in Andes Lake, Peru”

  1. tsrlf said

    [Prayers window is now closed!! Moderator. SEE ALSO: 2011 SIX TIMES MORE DISASTROUS THAN 2010 at

  2. Andes said

    You can be killed by a tsunami even on the mountains. That’s a very unlucky thing.

  3. […] Deadly Tsunami in Andes Lake, Peru « Fire Earth […]

  4. Catherine H said

    [Huh! We know what the FIRM is up too. If you don’t work for them, or have a financial interest, what could possibly prompt you to write? Moderator.]

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