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Near-field propagation of tsunamis from megathrust earthquakes

McCloskey, John and Antonioli, Andrea and Piatanesi, Alessio and Sieh, Kerry and Steacy, Sandy and Nalbant, Suleyman S. and Cocco, Massimo and Giunchi, Carlo and Huang, Jian Dong and Dunlop, Paul (2007) Near-field propagation of tsunamis from megathrust earthquakes. Geophysical Research Letters, 34 (14). L14316. ISSN 0094-8276. doi:10.1029/2007GL030494.

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We investigate controls on tsunami generation and propagation in the near-field of great megathrust earthquakes using a series of numerical simulations of subduction and tsunamigenesis on the Sumatran forearc. The Sunda megathrust here is advanced in its seismic cycle and may be ready for another great earthquake. We calculate the seafloor displacements and tsunami wave heights for about 100 complex earthquake ruptures whose synthesis was informed by reference to geodetic and stress accumulation studies. Remarkably, results show that, for any near-field location: (1) the timing of tsunami inundation is independent of slip-distribution on the earthquake or even of its magnitude, and (2) the maximum wave height is directly proportional to the vertical coseismic displacement experienced at that location. Both observations are explained by the dominance of long wavelength crustal flexure in near-field tsunamigenesis. The results show, for the first time, that a single estimate of vertical coseismic displacement might provide a reliable short-term forecast of the maximum height of tsunami waves.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
Sieh, Kerry0000-0002-7311-2447
Additional Information:© 2007 American Geophysical Union. Received 25 April 2007; accepted 25 June 2007; published 27 July 2007. We thank Rory Quinn for assistance in the bathymetric modelling, Spina Cianetti for assistance in construction of the finite element model of subduction, and Chris Bean for constructive criticism of the manuscript. The Landsat ETM+ data is used courtesy of the Global Land Cover Facility ( We acknowledge financial support from the Natural Environmental Research Council.
Group:Caltech Tectonics Observatory, Caltech Tectonics Observatory. Sumatran Plate Boundary
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Natural Environmental Research CouncilUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Sumatra; tsunami; megathrust
Issue or Number:14
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20110111-115014610
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:McCloskey, J., A. Antonioli, A. Piatanesi, K. Sieh, S. Steacy, S. S. Nalbant, M. Cocco, C. Giunchi, J. D. Huang, and P. Dunlop (2007), Near-field propagation of tsunamis from megathrust earthquakes, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L14316, doi:10.1029/2007GL030494
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:21704
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:25 Jan 2011 19:00
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 15:59

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