Tsunamis are a fact of life in seismic California, as mission history reminds us.
Dr. Dan Krieger is Professor Emeritus of History at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and a leading expert on the California missions. He relates the story of a tsunami that occurred off California’s central coast while Father Luis Gil y Taboada was stationed at Mission Santa Barbara.
The padre experienced the effects of a magnitude 7.2 earthquake centered offshore, one which swiftly took its toll on vulnerable structures. Missions up and down the central and coast of California were damaged, some beyond repair. According to Krieger,
Within several minutes, it leveled Mission La Purisima to “rubble and ruin, presenting the picture of a destroyed Jerusalem.”
The sea withdrew and turned into what appeared to be a tall hill. [Fr. Luis] and all of the people from the presidio took off running toward the mission, singing litanies to the Virgin.
Read Prof. Krieger’s full article here.