Characterizing Mega-Earthquake Related Tsunami on Subduction Zones without Large Historical Events

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Chesley R Williams1, Renee Lee1, Sarah Astill2, Rozita Farahani1, Paul S Wilson2 and Fahad Mohammed1, (1)Risk Management Solutions, Inc., Newark, CA, United States, (2)Risk Management Solutions, London, United Kingdom
Due to recent large tsunami events (e.g., Chile 2010 and Japan 2011), the insurance industry is very aware of the importance of managing its exposure to tsunami risk. There are currently few tools available to help establish policies for managing and pricing tsunami risk globally. As a starting point and to help address this issue, Risk Management Solutions Inc. (RMS) is developing a global suite of tsunami inundation footprints. This dataset will include both representations of historical events as well as a series of M9 scenarios on subductions zones that have not historical generated mega earthquakes. The latter set is included to address concerns about the completeness of the historical record for mega earthquakes. This concern stems from the fact that the Tohoku Japan earthquake was considerably larger than had been observed in the historical record.

Characterizing the source and rupture pattern for the subduction zones without historical events is a poorly constrained process. In many case, the subduction zones can be segmented based on changes in the characteristics of the subducting slab or major ridge systems. For this project, the unit sources from the NOAA propagation database are utilized to leverage the basin wide modeling included in this dataset. The length of the rupture is characterized based on subduction zone segmentation and the slip per unit source can be determined based on the event magnitude (i.e., M9) and moment balancing. As these events have not occurred historically, there is little to constrain the slip distribution. Sensitivity tests on the potential rupture pattern have been undertaken comparing uniform slip to higher shallow slip and tapered slip models. Subduction zones examined include the Makran Trench, the Lesser Antilles and the Hikurangi Trench. The ultimate goal is to create a series of tsunami footprints to help insurers understand their exposures at risk to tsunami inundation around the world.