WASHINGTON – Last year's Sumatra tsunami (search) focused its death and destruction on the lands around the Indian Ocean, but the great wave traveled around the world and was recorded as far away as Peru and northeastern Canada.
The wave rose a massive 30 feet as it destroyed communities around the Indian Ocean.
Tide gauges worldwide recorded its arrival from hours to a day after its Dec. 26 start, and movement of the wave was also tracked by satellite, according to a study appearing Thursday in Science Express (search), the online edition of the journal Science.
A research team led by Vasily Titov (search) of the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle reported that the wave moved in a complex pattern as it circled the globe, guided by ocean floor ridges that helped focus its energy in particular places.
The wave traveled several times around the globe before it finally dissipated, Titov reported.
Wave heights recorded at Callao, Peru, 11,400 miles east of the epicenter of the quake that caused the wave, and at Halifax, Nova Scotia, 14,400 miles west, were higher than at the Cocos Islands, located just over 1,000 miles south of the quake, the team noted.
The unusually high waves so far from the quake site result from two factors, the main east-west direction of the wave's energy and the focusing mechanism of the deep-sea ridges, Titov's team reported.
The first tsunami wave arriving at the Cocos Islands peaked at about 12 inches, the team said. By contrast, waves arriving at Callao and Halifax topped 20 inches, the team reported.
Other communities where tide gauges recorded arrival of the tsunami included Kodiak, Alaska, 10.4 inches; Point Reyes, Calif., 15.6 inches; Corral, Chile, 7.6 inches; Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, 17.8 inches; Newlyn, England, 2 inches and Brest, France, 3.2 inches.
Tsunami wave heights along the East Coast of the United States are less exact because a storm passing along the coast also induced oscillations in the water. Tsunami height estimates included 9 inches at Atlantic City, N.J., 14 inches at Trident Pier, N.J. and 3 inches at Magueyes Island, Puerto Rico.