Mega Tsunamis of the World Ocean and Their Implication for the Tsunami Hazard Assessment

Monday, 15 December 2014: 4:30 PM
Viacheslav K Gusiakov, Institute of Computational Mathematics and Mathematical Geophysics, Novosibirsk, Russia
Mega tsunamis are the strongest tsunamigenic events of tectonic origin that are characterized by run-up heights up to 40-50 m measured along a considerable part of the coastline (up to 1000 km). One of the most important features of mega-tsunamis is their ability to cross the entire oceanic basin and to cause an essential damage to its opposite coast. Another important feature is their ability to penetrate into the marginal seas (like the Sea of Okhotsk, the Bering Sea) and cause dangerous water level oscillations along the parts of the coast, which are largely protected by island arcs against the impact of the strongest regional tsunamis. Among all known historical tsunamis (nearly 2250 events during the last 4000 years) they represent only a small fraction (less than 1%) however they are responsible for more than half the total tsunami fatalities and a considerable part of the overall tsunami damage. The source of all known mega tsunamis is subduction submarine earthquakes with magnitude 9.0 or higher having a return period from 200-300 years to 1000-1200 years. The paper presents a list of 15 mega tsunami events identified so far in historical catalogs with their basic source parameters, near-field and far-field impact effects and their generation and propagation features. The far-field impact of mega tsunamis is largely controlled by location and orientation of their earthquake source as well as by deep ocean bathymetry features. We also discuss the problem of the long-term tsunami hazard assessment when the occurrence of mega tsunamis is taken into account.