Tsunami Source Identification on the 1867 Tsunami Event Based on the Impact Intensity

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Tso-Ren Wu, NCU National Central University of Taiwan, Graduate Institute of Hydrological and Oceanic Sciences, Jhongli, Taiwan
The 1867 Keelung tsunami event has drawn significant attention from people in Taiwan. Not only because the location was very close to the 3 nuclear power plants which are only about 20km away from the Taipei city but also because of the ambiguous on the tsunami sources. This event is unique in terms of many aspects. First, it was documented on many literatures with many languages and with similar descriptions. Second, the tsunami deposit was discovered recently. Based on the literatures, earthquake, 7-meter tsunami height, volcanic smoke, and oceanic smoke were observed. Previous studies concluded that this tsunami was generated by an earthquake with a magnitude around Mw7.0 along the Shanchiao Fault. However, numerical results showed that even a Mw 8.0 earthquake was not able to generate a 7-meter tsunami. Considering the steep bathymetry and intense volcanic activities along the Keelung coast, one reasonable hypothesis is that different types of tsunami sources were existed, such as the submarine landslide or volcanic eruption. In order to confirm this scenario, last year we proposed the Tsunami Reverse Tracing Method (TRTM) to find the possible locations of the tsunami sources. This method helped us ruling out the impossible far-field tsunami sources. However, the near-field sources are still remain unclear. This year, we further developed a new method named ‘Impact Intensity Analysis’ (IIA). In the IIA method, the study area is divided into a sequence of tsunami sources, and the numerical simulations of each source is conducted by COMCOT (Cornell Multi-grid Coupled Tsunami Model) tsunami model. After that, the resulting wave height from each source to the study site is collected and plotted. This method successfully helped us to identify the impact factor from the near-field potential sources.

The IIA result (Fig. 1) shows that the 1867 tsunami event was a multi-source event. A mild tsunami was trigged by a Mw7.0 earthquake, and then followed by the submarine landslide or volcanic events. A near-field submarine landslide and landslide at Mien-Hwa Canyon were the most possible scenarios. As for the volcano scenarios, the volcanic eruption located about 10 km away from Keelung with 2.5x108 m3 disturbed water volume might be a candidate. The detailed scenario results will be presented in the full paper.