Special Reports

Manzanillo Tidal Gauge Reading, January 21-22, 2003

Colima, Mexico M 7.8 earthquake, January 22, 2003

Click image to enlarge.

The following observations are from:

Modesto Ortiz, CICESE
Ensenada, Baja California, México. CP 22860

The 22 January, 2003 Colima-Mexico earthquake triggered a tsunami that was recorded at Manzanillo-Colima tide station 12 minutes after the origin time of the earthquake. The origin time of the earthquake is January 22, 2003 at 02:06:35 (UTC) or January 21, 2003 at 20:06:35 local time. The tide gauge is located in Manzanillo Bay inside of a coastal inlet with a narrow entrance, at the coordinates 19.064ºN, 104.2978ºW, which are approximately 50 km NE from the epicenter reported by NEIC (18.807ºN, 103.886ºW).

The first arrival of the tsunami has clearly an emergent character. The First peak is 28 centimeters above the tide level, followed by a maximum height (trough to peak) of 122 centimeters. This tide record is the closest one to the epicenter, and for the moment is the only available tide record.

As a reference, Manzanillo Bay is located on the northern segment of the coast of Colima. The States of Jalisco and Michoacan are north and south of Colima, respectively.

Eyewitness reports collected by telephone calls during the day after the earthquake are as follows: No tsunami was observed in Manzanillo Bay (report from Oceanographic Institute of the Navy). No tsunami along the coast of Jalisco (reports From Barra de Navidad and Melaque). NO tsunami was observed in the Port of Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan (report from the Captain of the Port). Lazaro Cardenas is on The southern end of the coast of Michoacan.

It was not possible any contact by telephone to villages along the Southern segment of the coast of Colima, which is the segment of the coast facing the rupture area.

Notice that it was nighttime at the time of the earthquake. Therefore, it was difficult for eyewitness to observe sea level fluctuations that did not overpass the higher part of the beach, which is in the average 1 meter above the high tide level along the coast of Jalisco and north of Colima.

Our attention is now on the southern segment of the coast of Colima and on the northern segment of the coast of Michoacan. We hope to let you know any confirmation of tsunami reports on these areas in about 24 hours.

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