Cause of tsunami wave heights is studied

August 20, 2007

Irish-led scientists have found tsunami wave height is independent of earthquake magnitude and is instead linked to a rupture's vertical displacement.

The massive 9.2-magnitude Sumatra-Andaman earthquake of 2004 generated a tsunami that propagated across the Indian Ocean, killing more than 250,000 people. By contrast, the nearby 8.7-magnitude 2005 Simeulue-Nias earthquake generated only a small tsunami that caused few casualties.

Although both occurred in similar tectonic settings, scientists said their tsunami were markedly different, highlighting the need for reliably determining tsunami hazards from earthquake geometry.

Using geodetic and stress accumulation studies, John McCloskey and colleagues at the University of Ulster-- in collaboration with Italian and U.S. scientists -- found that for locations close to an earthquake source, the timing of tsunami inundation is independent of the earthquake magnitude and slip distribution. However, they found maximum tsunami wave height is directly proportional to the vertical displacement of the rupture.

Because stress field studies indicate the Sumatra-Andaman region is overdue for another great earthquake, the scientists said a single estimate of vertical displacement during an earthquake might provide a reliable short-term forecast of tsunami wave height.

The research appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Scars left by Australia's undersea landslides reveal future tsunami potential

Related Stories

Geomythology—how a geographer began mining myths

December 8, 2017

So you think the Loch Ness Monster never existed? That the story is a cunningly cobbled-together fiction intended to boost tourist interest in an otherwise unrelentingly dull (only to some) part of mid-Scotland? Think again.

First detailed simulation of 2004 megathrust earthquake

November 15, 2017

Scientists in Munich have completed the first detailed simulation of the Sumatra earthquake that triggered a devastating tsunami on the day after Christmas in 2004. The results offer new insights into the underlying geophysical ...

Recommended for you

Climate change made Harvey rainfall 15 percent more intense

December 14, 2017

A team of scientists from World Weather Attribution, including researchers from Rice University and other institutions in the United States and Europe, have found that human-caused climate change made the record rainfall ...

Hydraulic fracturing negatively impacts infant health

December 13, 2017

From North Dakota to Ohio to Pennsylvania, hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, has transformed small towns into energy powerhouses. While some see the new energy boom as benefiting the local economy and decreasing ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.