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The area of the Caribbean Sea is geologically active. Earthquakes and volcanoes are common occurrences. These geologic events can generate powerful tsunamis some of which are more devastating than the earthquake or volcanic eruption itself. This document lists brief descriptions of 91 reported waves that might have been tsunamis within the Caribbean region. Of these, 27 are judged by the authors to be true, verified tsunamis and an additional nine are considered to be very likely true tsunamis. The additional 53 events either are not described with sufficient detail in the literature to verify their tsunami nature or are judged to be reports of other phenomenasuch as sea quakes or hurricane storm surges which may have been reported as tsunamis. Included in these 91 reports are teletsunamis, tectonic tsunamis, landslide tsunamis, and volcanic tsunamis that have caused major damage and deaths. Nevertheless, in recent history these events have been relatively rare. In the interim since the last major tsunami event in the Caribbean Sea the coastal regions have greatly increased in population. Coastal development has also increased. Today tourism is a major industry that exposes thousands of non-residents to the disastrous effects of a tsunami. These factors make the islands in this region much more vulnerable today than they were when the last major tsunami occurred in this area. This paper gives an overview of the tsunami history in the area. This history illustrates what can be expected in the future from this geologic hazard and provides information that will be useful for mitigation purposes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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