Highly variable recurrence of tsunamis in the 7,400 years before the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami

Charles M. Rubin, Benjamin Horton, Kerry Sieh, Jessica E. Pilarczyk, Patrick Daly, Nazli Ismail, Andrew C. Parnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

The devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami caught millions of coastal residents and the scientific community off-guard. Subsequent research in the Indian Ocean basin has identified prehistoric tsunamis, but the timing and recurrence intervals of such events are uncertain. Here we present an extraordinary 7,400 year stratigraphic sequence of prehistoric tsunami deposits from a coastal cave in Aceh, Indonesia. This record demonstrates that at least 11 prehistoric tsunamis struck the Aceh coast between 7,400 and 2,900 years ago. The average time period between tsunamis is about 450 years with intervals ranging from a long, dormant period of over 2,000 years, to multiple tsunamis within the span of a century. Although there is evidence that the likelihood of another tsunamigenic earthquake in Aceh province is high, these variable recurrence intervals suggest that long dormant periods may follow Sunda megathrust ruptures as large as that of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16019
JournalNature communications
Volume8
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 19 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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