At 10:48AM Pacific Daylight Time on September 29th, an earthquake with magnitude 8.0 (on the Richter Scale) occurred in the Samoa Islands Region. The earthquake generated three separate tsunami waves, the largest of which measured 13.7 feet from sea level height. The Pacific Tsunami Epicenter recorded a 3-inch rise in sea levels near the epicenter. The quake occurred near the Kermadec-TongaSubduction Zone where the Pacific Plate dives under the Australian Plate in the Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates in the earth's lithosphere meet and earthquakes and volcanic activity are common.
According to the Associated Press, residents in both Samoa and American Samoa reported being shaken awake by the quake early Tuesday, which lasted two to three minutes and was centered about 20 miles below the ocean floor. It was followed by at least three large aftershocks of at least 5.6 magnitude. The tsunami killed more than 100 people, injured hundreds, and destroyed villages. The countries hit by the tsunami are American Samoa, Samoa, and Tongawhere more than 100 deaths have been confirmed so far. Fiji, the northern coast of New Zealand and Rarotonga and the Cook Islands experienced large waves, but no damage was reported.
U.S. officials said strong currents and dangerous waves were forecast from California to Washington state. No major flooding was expected, however. While the earthquake and tsunami were big, they were not on the same scale of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. That tsunami killed more than 230,000 in a dozen countries across Asia.