NEPTUNE sensors detect Alberni tsunami activity

The big wave might not have rolled through Alberni like it did in 1964 but something did, and scientific instruments detected it.

Locations of NEPTUNE Canada's pressure sensors that detected tsunami activity produced by the 8.9 earthquake that struck Japan's east coast this morning.

Locations of NEPTUNE Canada's pressure sensors that detected tsunami activity produced by the 8.9 earthquake that struck Japan's east coast this morning.

Water monitoring equipment detected sudden changes in water conditions near Port Alberni even though a large tsunami never rolled up the inlet.

A tsunami advisory was triggered for B.C.’s north, central and west coasts’ after an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale crushed the north east coast of Japan late Thursday night.

NEPTUNE Canada’s sensor array across the Juan de Fuca Strait detected significant water pressure activity early Friday morning.

“The sensors picked up a tsunami but it was small by the time it got to us,” said Mairi Best, NEPTUNE associate director of science.

The sensors record changes in the water pressure above them and can detect variances as little as a centimetre or a few millimetres.

Sensor data is transmitted to NEPTUNE’s shore station in Port Alberni via fiber optic cable then relayed to the University of Victoria.

“We first saw pressure graph spikes at 6:35 a.m. when it arrived as a 15 centimetre wave,” Best said.

“We saw the pressure graph m spike at 7:30 a.m. in the Barkley Sound.”

There may have been activity in Alberni later in the day as well.

Tseshaht Councillor Luke George and three other tribe members saw what they thought was a small wave roll up the river by the Tseshaht administration building at 3 p.m.

“It was maybe a foot high, the same size as a wave a big boat might produce,” George said.

The wave rolled past the sand bar and continued around the corner of the orange bridge.

“You could hear a big sloshing sound by the rocks under the bridge when it passed by,” George said.

“And the water was really muddy around the sand bar after.”

NEPTUNE detected a 40 cm wave over a sensor between Ucluelet and Bamfield at about 7:15 a.m..

Tidal gauges at the Bamfield Marine Station registered unusual water activity as well.

“There were big swirling currents and  a lot of mud was also kicked up in the Inlet,” said Anne Stewart, the station’s public education coordinator.

“You could tell that something big was happening.”

One person at the station who never got the advisory paddled to work in his kayak.

“He said that the water was unusually muddy and rough,” Stewart said.

It’s not the first time NEPTUNE’s sensors detected tsunami fallout in the Barkley Sound or Alberni Canal.

The sensors detected water pressure changes after earthquakes in Samoa in 2009 and Chile in 2010.

“This was a bigger wave than those ones though,” Mairi said.

The sensors even detected water pressure changes from a recent storm from a depth of 100 metres.

NEPTUNE shares its data with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which is responsible for handling tsunami response in Canada.

The data also go to IRIS, the global network of earthquake information.

“Their scientists integrate it with their tsunami models to try and better understand how a tsunami behaves when it integrates with our coast,” Mairi said.

“This is a very real threat, and we need to be prepared for it.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

*The tsunami advisory has been cancelled but Port Alberni was ready. Read more here.

Just Posted

AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)
SD70 chooses new name for AW Neill School in Port Alberni

New name honours Nuu-chah-nulth Peoples’ connection to region

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Ron MacDonald fields questions at a news conference in Halifax on Sept. 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Finding ‘comfortable’ indigenous monitor tough task in Tofino-area shooting death

Julian Jones case hampered by difficulty finding a civilian comfortable with privacy protocols

Port Alberni RCMP officer in command Insp. Eric Rochette presents longtime community policing volunteer Louie Aumair with a OIC appreciation certificate. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni RCMP honour longtime volunteer

First responders receive support from broader community

The Dock+ is located on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
PROGRESS 2021: Port Alberni’s food hub still growing a year later

The Dock hopes to open a retail store on Alberni’s busy waterfront

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read