Tsunami damage in Crescent City, Calif.

Boats collide with one another after a tsunami surge of water swept through a boat basin in Crescent City, Calif., on March 11, 2011. (Bryant Anderson / Associated Press)

The study's simulation involves a temblor that hits Alaska just before noon on March 27, 2014, which would be the 50th anniversary of the tsunami caused by a 9.2 earthquake in Alaska in 1964.

A tsunami as powerful as that created in the simulation is estimated to occur once every several hundred years.

There's little recorded evidence of a destructive tsunami in Southern California in modern times. But the 1964 Alaska tsunami killed 10 people in Crescent City.

Other areas that could be inundated under this kind of tsunami include parts of Belmont Shore as well as Naples Island in Long Beach, portions of Sunset Beach and Seal Beach in Orange County, much of Balboa Peninsula and all of Balboa Island in Newport Beach, and Mission Beach in San Diego.

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach would have to order immediate evacuations, and they would be left idle for as many as two days. The warning time the ports would receive in this scenario might not be enough to complete the vessel evacuation plan.

A toxic stew of ship debris and fuel and pesticide-laden runoff from flooded farms could take years to clean up.

Rich Baratta, the director of risk management for the Port of Long Beach, said damage to Southern California ports would be tempered by the fact that they actually face south, not west.

"There is a benefit to us in the sense that we don't get the surges and potential damage that the ports get up in Humboldt and Northern California, because the mouths of their ports face the open sea," he said.

Roads across the state could be damaged by a tsunami, including Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and Orange County, Interstate 5 near Camp Pendleton, and Interstate 80 in Emeryville, just north of Oakland.

In Northern California, experts warned of damage to the Port of San Francisco's headquarters and the Bay Bridge toll plaza in Oakland. Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf are also in the danger zone. A tsunami could permanently wash away beaches in Malibu and Laguna.

Tsunamis have been an under-scrutinized hazard for years, particularly before the 2004 Sumatra tsunami and the 2011 Japan tsunami brought attention to the hazard.

A map of the inundation zones surmised under this tsunami scenario can be found at the California Department of Conservation website.