I don't know if this is a better fit for Earth Science (because of the tsunami part) or for Astronomy (because of the meteorite part).

The Wikipedia page on tsunamis says that tsunamis can be caused the the fall of a meteorite. The first reference after that claim mentions that tsunamis can be caused by meteorites, but in an unsubstantiated way. The second reference is behind a paywall so I can't access it.

How many recorded tsunamis have been caused by the fall of a meteorite?

  • $\begingroup$ The context for this question: I was giving a visit of the observatory, and somebody asked why we can't predict tsunamis yet given all the telescopes we have. My first answer was that most tsunamis are caused by earthquakes. But I guess some tsunamis are caused by astronomical phenomena??? $\endgroup$
    – usernumber
    Sep 17, 2020 at 15:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The only one I'm aware of is the meteor that created the Chicxulub crater on the Yukutan Peninsular in Mexico that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Sep 17, 2020 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ What makes a tsunami is the dimensionality of the trigger event of the wave, as seen from your standpoint. $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Feb 14 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


None in historical times.

A tsunami is caused by a displacement of water, so for a meteorite to cause a measurable tsunami it would have to be very large. The largest known impactor in historic times, in Tunguska, was about 50m diameter could have created waves, but probably not a tsunami. There is evidence that a much larger impact, he Eltanin impact, 2.1 million years ago in the pacific ocean off Chile (a 1.5km diameter impactor) also did not create a tsunami. The waves generated were short wavelength turbulent waves and the energy was lost in friction. Tsunami need to be very long wavelength to cross oceans and cause damage remotely.

Much larger impacts would create tsunami, and the size of the tsunami may exceed that created by earthquakes. See my source Are ocean impacts a serious threat."


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