The Maule River estuary outfalls at Constitución, one of the hardest hit communities following the tsunami in 2010. Extreme pulses of inundation are common to estuarine environments where marine sand meets river silt. At present, many estuaries along the Chilean coast are infilled by coastal concretization that intervenes between marine and terrestrial realms. The wave action following an earthquake brought silty inundation, erosion, and deposition to the estuarine coast, a disturbance that is neither unprecedented nor particularly unique. The lineage of estuary formation across time is described by paleo-geological analysis which confirms that the southwest coast of Chile is a remarkably active area o

The legacy of Nijinomatsubara is preserved as a story. Few accounts have ever been written and even fewer translated. In order to hear the story, I worked with landscape researcher Naoko Asano, and together we reached out to Yo Yamada, a remarkable historian who met us at Karatsu-jō, a castle that overlooks the bay and provides sweeping views of the planted forest called Nijinomatsubara. It was Yamada-sensei who suggested we start above the pines, to capture the context of legend, fable, and rumor of this magical forest. Yamada told the story in fragments, interrupted only by our enthusiastic questions and his saturated silence:

The lord of Karatsu Doman, Terasawa Shiuma-no-Kami Hirotaka (1593-1647), began planting black pine trees along the beach in 1610 because he saw that a few still remained dotted along the coast. That’s how he got the idea to plant pines. Hirotaka made sure that everyone planted trees and that no one damaged or removed any trees for firewood. He was determined to have the largest and most impressive coastal forest in Japan. He planned to forest both bays with trees and to build a castle in the center. The castle would form the head of a bird and rise elegantly towards the horizon. The forest would form the most majestic spread wings on either side of the castle.

This seventeenth century ink scroll painting depicts harpooning along the rocky coast and fishing from sea-borne vessels. A few pine trees mark life along the shore. Such depictions suggestively point to an appreciation and love of life along the coast.

A rupture twenty-five kilometers deep beneath the Nazca plate, produced the earthquake, triggering a tsunami that traveled along the fault at tectonic junctions. The magnitudinous waves spread beneath the coast until making landfall along the shores between Constitución and Concepción. Magnitude is relative power, and its measurement takes into account the energy released at the source. By comparison, intensity is the strength of the shaking produced by the magnitude.