Articles | Volume 15, issue 10
Research article
07 Oct 2015
Research article |  | 07 Oct 2015

Large submarine earthquakes that occurred worldwide in a 1-year period (June 2013 to June 2014) – a contribution to the understanding of tsunamigenic potential

R. Omira, D. Vales, C. Marreiros, and F. Carrilho

Abstract. This paper is a contribution to a better understanding of the tsunamigenic potential of large submarine earthquakes. Here, we analyze the tsunamigenic potential of large earthquakes which have occurred worldwide with magnitudes around Mw = 7.0 and greater during a period of 1 year, from June 2013 to June 2014. The analysis involves earthquake model evaluation, tsunami numerical modeling, and sensors' records analysis in order to confirm the generation of a tsunami (or lack thereof) following the occurrence of an earthquake. We also investigate and discuss the sensitivity of tsunami generation to the earthquake parameters recognized to control tsunami occurrence, including the earthquake location, magnitude, focal mechanism and fault rupture depth. Through this analysis, we attempt to understand why some earthquakes trigger tsunamis and others do not, and how the earthquake source parameters are related to the potential of tsunami generation. We further discuss the performance of tsunami warning systems in detecting tsunamis and disseminating the alerts. A total of 23 events, with magnitudes ranging from Mw = 6.7 to Mw = 8.1, have been analyzed. This study shows that about 39 % of the analyzed earthquakes caused tsunamis that were recorded by different sensors with wave amplitudes varying from a few centimeters to about 2 m. Tsunami numerical modeling shows good agreement between simulated waveforms and recorded waveforms, for some events. On the other hand, simulations of tsunami generation predict that some of the events, considered as non-tsunamigenic, caused small tsunamis. We find that most generated tsunamis were caused by shallow earthquakes (depth < 30 km) and thrust faults that took place on/near the subduction zones. The results of this study can help the development of modified and improved versions of tsunami decision matrixes for various oceanic domains.

Final-revised paper