Tsunamigenic Ratio of the Pacific Ocean earthquakes and a proposal for a Tsunami Index
Abstract. The Pacific Ocean is the location where two-thirds of tsunamis have occurred, resulting in a great number of casualties. Once information on an earthquake has been issued, it is important to understand if there is a tsunami generation risk in relation with a specific earthquake magnitude or focal depth. This study proposes a Tsunamigenic Ratio (TR) that is defined as the ratio between the number of earthquake-generated tsunamis and the total number of earthquakes. Earthquake and tsunami data used in this study were selected from a database containing tsunamigenic earthquakes from prior 1900 to 2011. The TR is calculated from earthquake events with a magnitude greater than 5.0, a focal depth shallower than 200 km and a sea depth less than 7 km. The results suggest that a great earthquake magnitude and a shallow focal depth have a high potential to generate tsunamis with a large tsunami height. The average TR in the Pacific Ocean is 0.4, whereas the TR for specific regions of the Pacific Ocean varies from 0.3 to 0.7. The TR calculated for each region shows the relationship between three influential parameters: earthquake magnitude, focal depth and sea depth. The three parameters were combined and proposed as a dimensionless parameter called the Tsunami Index (TI). TI can express better relationship with the TR and with maximum tsunami height, while the three parameters mentioned above cannot. The results show that recent submarine earthquakes had a higher potential to generate a tsunami with a larger tsunami height than during the last century. A tsunami is definitely generated if the TI is larger than 7.0. The proposed TR and TI will help ascertain the tsunami generation risk of each earthquake event based on a statistical analysis of the historical data and could be an important decision support tool during the early tsunami warning stage.