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Historical seismograms for unravelling a mysterious earthquake: The 1907 Sumatra Earthquake

Kanamori, Hiroo and Rivera, Luis and Lee, William H. K. (2010) Historical seismograms for unravelling a mysterious earthquake: The 1907 Sumatra Earthquake. Geophysical Journal International, 183 (1). pp. 358-374. ISSN 0956-540X.

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History of instrumental seismology is short. Seismograms are available only for a little more than 100 years; high-quality seismograms are available only for the last 50 years and the seismological database is very limited in time. To extend the database, seismograms of old events are of vital importance. Many unusual earthquakes are known to have occurred, but their seismological characteristics are poorly known. The 1907 Sumatra earthquake is one of them (1907 January 4, M= 7.6). Gutenberg and Richter located this event in the outer-rise area of the Sunda arc. This earthquake is known to be anomalous because of its extensive tsunami, which is disproportionate of its magnitude. The tsunami affected the coastal areas over 950 km along the Sumatran coast. We investigated this earthquake using the historical seismograms we could collect from several seismological observatories. We examined the P-wave arrival times listed in the Strassburg Bulletin (1912) and other station bulletins. The scatter of the Observed−Computed traveltime residuals ranges from –30 to 30 s, too large to locate the event accurately. The uncertainty of the epicentre estimated from an S-P grid-search relocation study is at least 1° (~110 km). We interpreted the Omori seismograms from Osaka, Mizusawa and Tokyo, and the Wiechert seismograms from Göttingen and Uppsala by comparing them with the seismograms simulated from modern broad-band seismograms of the 2002, 2008 and two 2010 Sumatra earthquakes which occurred near the 1907 earthquake. From the amplitude of Rayleigh waves recorded on the Omori seismograms we conclude that the magnitude of the 1907 earthquake at about 30 to 40 s is about 7.8 (i.e. 7.5 to 8.0). The SH waveforms recorded on the Göttingen and Uppsala seismograms suggest that the 1907 earthquake is a thrust earthquake at a shallow depth around 30 km. The most likely scenario is that the 1907 earthquake initiated on the subduction interface, and slowly ruptured up-dip into the shallow sediments and caused the extensive tsunami. Although their quantity and quality are limited, historical seismograms provide key quantitative information about old events that cannot be obtained otherwise. This underscores the importance of preserving historical seismograms.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
Kanamori, Hiroo0000-0001-8219-9428
Rivera, Luis0000-0002-0726-5445
Additional Information:© 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 RAS. Accepted 2010 July 8. Received 2010 June 29; in original form 2009 November 16. Article first published online: 16 Aug. 2010. We thank our colleagues at many seismological institutions and observatories who helped us explore the availability and collect valuable historical seismograms. Just to mention a few: Conny Holmqvist, Kazuko Noguchi, Kenshiro Tsumura, Nobuo Hamada, Norihito Umino, Satoshi Hirahara, Torsten Dahm, Martin Leven, Thomas Jahr, Dieter Kurrle, Zhu Yuanqing, Thierry Camelbeeck, Suhardjono, Randell Teodoro, Antoniuo Pazos, BernardDost, Brian Ferris, and Zurab Javakhishvili. Michel Cara helped us understand the polarity convention of Wiechert seismographs. We have benefited a great deal from discussions with William McCann who also provided us with the base map for Fig. 2. We thank Kerry Sieh, William McCann and Johannes Schweitzer for providing us with helpful comments during the final revision process. We thank Doug Dodge for coding the JLoc grid-search earthquake location program. The copies of the pages of the Gutenberg notepad used in this study were provided by the Archives of the California Institute of Technology. We thank the IRIS Data Management Center for providing us access to the global broad-band sesimograms. We thank the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED) Japan for providing us access to the F-net broad-band seismograms. Archiving and scanning project of Mizusawa seismogramswas supported byGrant (PR2002) ‘The Research on the Tonankai and Nankaido earthquakes’ from the ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology of Japan.
Subject Keywords:Seismic cycle; Tsunamis; Earthquake source observations; Subduction zone process; Dynamics and mechanics of faulting; Indian Ocean
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20101011-110410490
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Official Citation:Kanamori, H., Rivera, L. and Lee, W. H. K. (2010), Historical seismograms for unravelling a mysterious earthquake: The 1907 Sumatra Earthquake. Geophysical Journal International, 183: 358–374. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2010.04731.x
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:20370
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:23 Nov 2010 20:20
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

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