Tsunami? 1862.

Turbulent Sea.

On Tuesday, the 28th of January, at Waialua, Molokai, exceptionally rough seas were seen, and there was much damage. The fish ponds from Moanui until Puako were smashed by the sea. The road at Honouliwai was dashed, and horses cannot  travel there. On the night of the 29th, there was a great earthquake, and the earth shook for eleven seconds. This is what was written in by M. Timoteo.

(Hoku o ka Pakipika, 2/20/1862, p. 2)

Kaikoo nui.

Ka Hoku o ka Pakipika, Buke I, Helu 22, Aoao 2. Feberuari 20, 1862.

4 thoughts on “Tsunami? 1862.

  1. I stumbled across this site during a web search on “kaikoo tsunami.” This is the only reference I have found for an earthquake near Molokai on the 29th. The late Doak Cox, an earthquake and tsunami expert, was fluent in Hawaiian but apparently didn’t read this issue of Ka Hoku o ka Pakipika. Doak suggested that flooding waves in January 1862 were from a storm (he thought Waialua meant Oahu, though from this source I suspect he got got the island wrong). The description here also suggests a storm, but storm waves are usually much subdued by the time they get to Waialua and Honouliwai. A tsunami, however, can knock that same coast pretty hard, as happened the night of October 27, 2012. The occurrence of an earthquake is also intriguing and warrants further investigation. A very similar event–big storm waves with what looks suspiciously like a tsunami in the middle–occurred in the same area Nov 29, 1903. In 1903 it seems that huge storm waves triggered a submarine landslide on the north slope of Molokai, which in turn generated a tsunami that flooded north Molokai and Maui; something similar might have happened in 1862 (but it would have to be two landslides: a long slow one to generate the tsunami, a later closer one to produce shaking). I’d dearly love to know exactly where M. Timoteo was when he felt whatever he felt.

  2. Apologies for not responding months ago, Steve.
    The 1903 event was written up in the English-language newspapers: the Hawaii Star (Honolulu) on Dec. 2, the Hawaii Herald (Hilo) Dec. 3, and the Hawaiian Gazette (Honolulu) on Dec. 4. The tsunami, if that’s what it was, was observed at Pelekunu by Johnny Wilson (who was later to become mayor of Honolulu). Wilson’s recollection of the event appears in Bob Krauss’ book “Johnny Wilson: First Hawaiian Democrat.”
    The tsunami caused damage at Pelekunu (knocked down a wall and swept through Wilson’s house), at Kalaupapa (damaged wharf under construction and a crane), and at Honokohau on Maui (two houses destroyed).
    It would be wonderful if a Hawaiian language source could provide additional information.

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