Tsunamis are series of traveling ocean waves of extremely long length generated by disturbances associated with earthquakes occurring below or near the ocean floor. Both types of tsunamis, remote and local, have affected California.
Remote tsunamis have been the most frequent to hit California and are generated by earthquakes off the coasts of Japan, Alaska, Hawaii and Chile. The most significant remote tsunami to hit southern California was in 1960, when an 8.6 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile generated a tsunami that caused major damage to the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors.
Local tsunamis are generated off the coast of Southern California. Since 1800, only four locally generated tsunamis have been observed.