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Published December 26, 2006 | Supplemental Material + Published
Journal Article Open

Tsunami inundation modeling for western Sumatra


A long section of the Sunda megathrust south of the great tsunamigenic earthquakes of 2004 and 2005 is well advanced in its seismic cycle and a plausible candidate for rupture in the next few decades. Our computations of tsunami propagation and inundation yield model flow depths and inundations consistent with sparse historical accounts for the last great earthquakes there, in 1797 and 1833. Numerical model results from plausible future ruptures produce flow depths of several meters and inundation up to several kilometers inland near the most populous coastal cities. Our models of historical and future tsunamis confirm a substantial exposure of coastal Sumatran communities to tsunami surges. Potential losses could be as great as those that occurred in Aceh in 2004.

Additional Information

© 2006 by The National Academy of Sciences of the USA. Edited by Barbara A. Romanowicz, University of California, Berkeley, CA, and approved October 24, 2006 (received for review May 17, 2006). Published online before print December 14, 2006, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0604069103. This article is a PNAS direct submission. Aubrey Dugger and GreenInfo Networks (San Francisco, CA) provided invaluable geographic information system service and expertise in creating the computational grids. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory supported the costs of digitizing the bathymetric charts, through a contract with the United States Agency for International Development. K.S. and M.C. were supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through the California Institute of Technology's Tectonics Observatory. National Science Foundation grants to the University of Southern California Tsunami Research Center partially supported the numerical modeling effort. This is Tectonics Observatory contribution number 37. Author contributions: J.C.B., K.S., M.C., and C.E.S. designed research; J.C.B., K.S., and M.C. performed research; J.C.B., K.S., and M.C. analyzed data; and J.C.B., K.S., and C.E.S. wrote the paper. The authors declare no conflict of interest. This article contains supporting information online at www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/0604069103/DC1. Nautical charts of 1:250,000 scale from the Indonesian hydrographic service were scanned and geo-referenced to latitude/longitude coordinates by using the appropriate datum (UTM48-S, Batavia) and spheroid (Bessel 1841), as specified on the charts. All contours, soundings, and land elevations on the charts were then digitized by hand. These data were then combined with the SRTM30_PLUS data set (http://topex.ucsd.edu) to generate a combined map containing near and offshore bathymetry and coastal topography. The combined data set was then interpolated to a 200-m grid in latitude/longitude coordinates in the WGS84 projection.

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