Earthquake-triggered tsunami steers clear of Australia

09:33, March 01, 2010      

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Australia was little troubled by a Pacific Ocean tsunami triggered by a devastating 8.8-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile.

Beaches in New South Wales (NSW) state were closed on Sunday afternoon and emergency services were on patrol as the brunt of the tsunami waves traveled in a northwest direction, narrowly missing Australia's east coast.

But tsunami waves were recorded along the NSW, Queensland state and Tasmanian coasts, with Norfolk Island recording a 50 cm surge in sea levels. The Gold Coast saw a 20 cm increase in sea levels. In Tasmania, Southport and Darlington experienced a 17 cm increase. Port Kembla on NSW's south coast recorded a 14 cm increase, but no damage or emergencies occurred.

The warning was called off by the JATWC later on Sunday evening, when it was decided the risk of a tsunami hitting Australia had passed and the main tsunami waves had passed all expected Australian locations.

"It's unfortunate that we had to close beaches for an entire day, but hopefully we managed to keep everyone out of danger," a spokesman of Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Center (JATWC) said.

JATWC previously issued a tsunami alert, declaring a "potential tsunami threat" for Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island.

Dangerous waves and foreshore flooding listed in the warnings did not eventuate, but the JATWC was focused on strong ocean currents affecting people in boats or in the water.

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