Tonga quake not conducive to tsunami
Seismologists at Washington University in St. Louis and their colleagues in Australia, Japan and Tonga have determined why a large earthquake in Tonga did not cause a large tsunami. A tsunami warning was issued around the Pacific Rim following the magnitude 8.0 earthquake on May 3, 2006, but the resulting tsunami was very minor and caused no damage.
Tsunamis generally result from shallow-thrust earthquakes, which occur when the seafloor is pushed downward beneath the land in places like Japan, Chile, Indonesia and Mexico. The researchers found instead that this earthquake was slab-tearing event — a rupturing of the down-going seafloor beneath Tonga. This explains why the tsunami was smaller than expected, and suggests that large earthquakes in Tonga may typically be of the slab-tearing variety, consistent with the lack of large historical tsunamis in Tonga.
Douglas A. Wiens, Ph.D., Washington University professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, and his collaborators quickly assembled their equipment and deployed seven stations to record the aftershocks some 60 kilometers beneath the surface. Washington University technical scientist Patrick Shore and graduate student David Heeszel, along with Australian and Tongan co-workers, installed the seismographs. Shore and Heeszel sailed on a small ship for several days to deploy the seismographs on a group of islands near Ha'apai, Tonga.
"A shallow-thrust earthquake's main shock would have been shallower than what we found," Wiens said. "Because that part of the world does not want a repeat of the Sumatra experience, we wanted to determine the nature of the earthquake. Our Washington University group has done extensive analyses of Tongan earthquakes, so other researchers and the National Science Foundation got in touch quickly and we had equipment installed in early June."
"The Sumatra earthquake surprised a lot of people, and the size of the Tongan one also surprised us, so we wanted to make sure there was not a tsunami hazard in the region. If all the large earthquakes are of the slab-tearing variety like the May 2006 event, it doesn't appear that there is one."
Heeszel and Wiens presented their results at the Winter Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held Dec. 10-15, 2006 in San Francisco. The research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
Tony Fitzpatrick | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...