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Triggering of tsunamigenic aftershocks from large strike‐slip earthquakes: Analysis of the November 2000 New Ireland earthquake sequence

October 21, 2005

[1] The November 2000 New Ireland earthquake sequence started with a Mw = 8.0 left‐lateral main shock on 16 November and was followed by a series of aftershocks with primarily thrust mechanisms. The earthquake sequence was associated with a locally damaging tsunami on the islands of New Ireland and nearby New Britain, Bougainville, and Buka. Results from numerical tsunami‐propagation models of the main shock and two of the largest thrust aftershocks (Mw > 7.0) indicate that the largest tsunami was caused by an aftershock located near the southeastern termination of the main shock, off the southern tip of New Ireland (Aftershock 1). Numerical modeling and tide gauge records at regional and far‐field distances indicate that the main shock also generated tsunami waves. Large horizontal displacements associated with the main shock in regions of steep bathymetry accentuated tsunami generation for this event. Most of the damage on Bougainville and Buka Islands was caused by focusing and amplification of tsunami energy from a ridge wave between the source region and these islands. Modeling of changes in the Coulomb failure stress field caused by the main shock indicate that Aftershock 1 was likely triggered by static stress changes, provided the fault was on or synthetic to the New Britain interplate thrust as specified by the Harvard CMT mechanism. For other possible focal mechanisms of Aftershock 1 and the regional occurrence of thrust aftershocks in general, evidence for static stress change triggering is not as clear. Other triggering mechanisms such as changes in dynamic stress may also have been important. The 2000 New Ireland earthquake sequence provides evidence that tsunamis caused by thrust aftershocks can be triggered by large strike‐slip earthquakes. Similar tectonic regimes that include offshore accommodation structures near large strike‐slip faults are found in southern California, the Sea of Marmara, Turkey, along the Queen Charlotte fault in British Columbia, and near the Alpine fault of New Zealand. Results from this study and previous stress modeling studies suggest that the likelihood of local tsunamis in these regions may significantly increase after a great strike‐slip earthquake.

Publication Year 2005
Title Triggering of tsunamigenic aftershocks from large strike‐slip earthquakes: Analysis of the November 2000 New Ireland earthquake sequence
DOI 10.1029/2005GC000935
Authors Eric L. Geist, Tom Parsons
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Index ID 70217329
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center