Tsunamis Generated by Megathrust Earthquakes


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Tsunamis Generated by Megathrust Earthquakes

Subduction-zone mega-thrust earthquakes, the most powerful earthquakes in the world, can produce tsunamis through a variety of structures that are missed by simple models. These include fault boundary rupture, deformation of overlying plate, splay faults, and landslides during earthquakes. In this animation we explore different tsunami-producing mechanisms by examining three famous earthquakes: Japan 2011, Chile 2010, and Alaska 1964. From a hazards viewpoint, it is critical to remember that tsunamis are multiple waves that often arrive on shore for many hours after the initial wave. The above mentioned quakes, as well as the catastrophic 2004 Sumatra subduction-zone megathrust earthquake, have delivered powerful lessons that rapid evacuation of tsunami inundation zones is a life-saving emergency response.

 mp4 (16.4 MB)


Written and directed by Robert Butler, University of Portland
Animation & graphics by Jenda Johnson
Narrated by Katryn Wiese, City College of San Francisco
U.S. Geological Survey consultants:
    Peter J. Haeussler, Alaska Science Center
    Robert C. Witter, Alaska Science Center
Reviewed by Susan Beck, seismologist, University of Arizona and George Zandt, seismologist, University of Arizona

Please send feedback to Jenda Johnson.