TSUNAMI THREAT FOR AUSTRALIA AFTER M7.2 EARTHQUAKE
29 March, 2018
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is declaring a TSUNAMI THREAT for Northern Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) after a strong Magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck in the ocean off the coast of PNG.
ZCZC WEPA40 PHEB 292157 TSUPAC TSUNAMI MESSAGE NUMBER 2 NWS PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER EWA BEACH HI 2157 UTC THU MAR 29 2018 ...PTWC TSUNAMI THREAT MESSAGE... **** NOTICE **** NOTICE **** NOTICE **** NOTICE **** NOTICE ***** THIS MESSAGE IS ISSUED FOR INFORMATION ONLY IN SUPPORT OF THE UNESCO/IOC PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING AND MITIGATION SYSTEM AND IS MEANT FOR NATIONAL AUTHORITIES IN EACH COUNTRY OF THAT SYSTEM. NATIONAL AUTHORITIES WILL DETERMINE THE APPROPRIATE LEVEL OF ALERT FOR EACH COUNTRY AND MAY ISSUE ADDITIONAL OR MORE REFINED INFORMATION. **** NOTICE **** NOTICE **** NOTICE **** NOTICE **** NOTICE ***** THE TSUNAMI FORECAST IS UPDATED IN THIS MESSAGE. PRELIMINARY EARTHQUAKE PARAMETERS --------------------------------- * MAGNITUDE 7.2 * ORIGIN TIME 2126 UTC MAR 29 2018 * COORDINATES 5.6 SOUTH 151.6 EAST * DEPTH 10 KM / 6 MILES * LOCATION NEW BRITAIN REGION PAPUA NEW GUINEA EVALUATION ---------- * AN EARTHQUAKE WITH A PRELIMINARY MAGNITUDE OF 7.2 OCCURRED IN THE NEW BRITAIN REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA AT 2126 UTC ON THURSDAY MARCH 29 2018. * BASED ON ALL AVAILABLE DATA... HAZARDOUS TSUNAMI WAVES ARE FORECAST FOR SOME COASTS. TSUNAMI THREAT FORECAST...UPDATED --------------------------------- * TSUNAMI WAVES REACHING 0.3 TO 1 METERS ABOVE THE TIDE LEVEL ARE POSSIBLE FOR SOME COASTS OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA. * TSUNAMI WAVES ARE FORECAST TO BE LESS THAN 0.3 METERS ABOVE THE TIDE LEVEL FOR THE COASTS OF SOLOMON ISLANDS. * ACTUAL AMPLITUDES AT THE COAST MAY VARY FROM FORECAST AMPLITUDES DUE TO UNCERTAINTIES IN THE FORECAST AND LOCAL FEATURES. IN PARTICULAR MAXIMUM TSUNAMI AMPLITUDES ON ATOLLS AND AT LOCATIONS WITH FRINGING OR BARRIER REEFS WILL LIKELY BE MUCH SMALLER THAN THE FORECAST INDICATES. * FOR OTHER AREAS COVERED BY THIS PRODUCT A FORECAST HAS NOT YET BEEN COMPUTED. THE FORECAST WILL BE EXPANDED IF NECESSARY IN SUBSEQUENT PRODUCTS. RECOMMENDED ACTIONS ------------------- * GOVERNMENT AGENCIES RESPONSIBLE FOR THREATENED COASTAL AREAS SHOULD TAKE ACTION TO INFORM AND INSTRUCT ANY COASTAL POPULATIONS AT RISK IN ACCORDANCE WITH THEIR OWN EVALUATION... PROCEDURES AND THE LEVEL OF THREAT. * PERSONS LOCATED IN THREATENED COASTAL AREAS SHOULD STAY ALERT FOR INFORMATION AND FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS FROM NATIONAL AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES. ESTIMATED TIMES OF ARRIVAL -------------------------- * ESTIMATED TIMES OF ARRIVAL -ETA- OF THE INITIAL TSUNAMI WAVE FOR PLACES WITHIN THREATENED REGIONS ARE GIVEN BELOW. ACTUAL ARRIVAL TIMES MAY DIFFER AND THE INITIAL WAVE MAY NOT BE THE LARGEST. A TSUNAMI IS A SERIES OF WAVES AND THE TIME BETWEEN WAVES CAN BE FIVE MINUTES TO ONE HOUR. LOCATION REGION COORDINATES ETA(UTC) ------------------------------------------------------------ RABAUL PAPUA NEW GUINEA 4.2S 152.3E 2152 03/29 POTENTIAL IMPACTS ----------------- * A TSUNAMI IS A SERIES OF WAVES. THE TIME BETWEEN WAVE CRESTS CAN VARY FROM 5 MINUTES TO AN HOUR. THE HAZARD MAY PERSIST FOR MANY HOURS OR LONGER AFTER THE INITIAL WAVE. * IMPACTS CAN VARY SIGNIFICANTLY FROM ONE SECTION OF COAST TO THE NEXT DUE TO LOCAL BATHYMETRY AND THE SHAPE AND ELEVATION OF THE SHORELINE. * IMPACTS CAN ALSO VARY DEPENDING UPON THE STATE OF THE TIDE AT THE TIME OF THE MAXIMUM TSUNAMI WAVES. * PERSONS CAUGHT IN THE WATER OF A TSUNAMI MAY DROWN... BE CRUSHED BY DEBRIS IN THE WATER... OR BE SWEPT OUT TO SEA. NEXT UPDATE AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION -------------------------------------- * THE NEXT MESSAGE WILL BE ISSUED IN ONE HOUR... OR SOONER IF THE SITUATION WARRANTS. * AUTHORITATIVE INFORMATION ABOUT THE EARTHQUAKE FROM THE U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY CAN BE FOUND ON THE INTERNET AT EARTHQUAKE.USGS.GOV/EARTHQUAKES -ALL LOWER CASE-. * FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THIS EVENT MAY BE FOUND AT PTWC.WEATHER.GOV AND AT WWW.TSUNAMI.GOV. * COASTAL REGIONS OF HAWAII... AMERICAN SAMOA... GUAM... AND CNMI SHOULD REFER TO PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER MESSAGES SPECIFICALLY FOR THOSE PLACES THAT CAN BE FOUND AT PTWC.WEATHER.GOV. * COASTAL REGIONS OF CALIFORNIA... OREGON... WASHINGTON... BRITISH COLUMBIA AND ALASKA SHOULD ONLY REFER TO U.S. NATIONAL TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER MESSAGES THAT CAN BE FOUND AT NTWC.ARH.NOAA.GOV. $$ NNNN
Seismotectonics of the New Guinea Region and Vicinity
The Australia-Pacific plate boundary is over 4000 km long on the northern margin, from the Sunda (Java) trench in the west to the Solomon Islands in the east. The eastern section is over 2300 km long, extending west from northeast of the Australian continent and the Coral Sea until it intersects the east coast of Papua New Guinea. The boundary is dominated by the general northward subduction of the Australia plate.
Along the South Solomon trench, the Australia plate converges with the Pacific plate at a rate of approximately 95 mm/yr towards the east-northeast. Seismicity along the trench is dominantly related to subduction tectonics and large earthquakes are common: there have been 13 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded since 1900. On April 1, 2007, a M8.1 interplate megathrust earthquake occurred at the western end of the trench, generating a tsunami and killing at least 40 people. This was the third M8.1 megathrust event associated with this subduction zone in the past century; the other two occurred in 1939 and 1977.
Further east at the New Britain trench, the relative motions of several microplates surrounding the Australia-Pacific boundary, including north-south oriented seafloor spreading in the Woodlark Basin south of the Solomon Islands, maintain the general northward subduction of Australia-affiliated lithosphere beneath Pacific-affiliated lithosphere. Most of the large and great earthquakes east of New Guinea are related to this subduction; such earthquakes are particularly concentrated at the cusp of the trench south of New Ireland. 33 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900, including three shallow thrust fault M8.1 events in 1906, 1919, and 2007.
The western end of the Australia-Pacific plate boundary is perhaps the most complex portion of this boundary, extending 2000 km from Indonesia and the Banda Sea to eastern New Guinea. The boundary is dominantly convergent along an arc-continent collision segment spanning the width of New Guinea, but the regions near the edges of the impinging Australia continental margin also include relatively short segments of extensional, strike-slip and convergent deformation. The dominant convergence is accommodated by shortening and uplift across a 250-350 km-wide band of northern New Guinea, as well as by slow southward-verging subduction of the Pacific plate north of New Guinea at the New Guinea trench. Here, the Australia-Pacific plate relative velocity is approximately 110 mm/yr towards the northeast, leading to the 2-8 mm/yr uplift of the New Guinea Highlands.
Whereas the northern band of deformation is relatively diffuse east of the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border, in western New Guinea there are at least two small (<100,000 km²) blocks of relatively undeformed lithosphere. The westernmost of these is the Birds Head Peninsula microplate in Indonesia's West Papua province, bounded on the south by the Seram trench. The Seram trench was originally interpreted as an extreme bend in the Sunda subduction zone, but is now thought to represent a southward-verging subduction zone between Birds Head and the Banda Sea.
There have been 22 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded in the New Guinea region since 1900. The dominant earthquake mechanisms are thrust and strike slip, associated with the arc-continent collision and the relative motions between numerous local microplates. The largest earthquake in the region was a M8.2 shallow thrust fault event in the northern Papua province of Indonesia that killed 166 people in 1996.
The western portion of the northern Australia plate boundary extends approximately 4800 km from New Guinea to Sumatra and primarily separates Australia from the Eurasia plate, including the Sunda block. This portion is dominantly convergent and includes subduction at the Sunda (Java) trench, and a young arc-continent collision.
In the east, this boundary extends from the Kai Islands to Sumba along the Timor trough, offset from the Sunda trench by 250 km south of Sumba. Contrary to earlier tectonic models in which this trough was interpreted as a subduction feature continuous with the Sunda subduction zone, it is now thought to represent a subsiding deformational feature related to the collision of the Australia plate continental margin and the volcanic arc of the Eurasia plate, initiating in the last 5-8 Myr. Before collision began, the Sunda subduction zone extended eastward to at least the Kai Islands, evidenced by the presence of a northward-dipping zone of seismicity beneath Timor Leste. A more detailed examination of the seismic zone along it's eastern segment reveals a gap in intermediate depth seismicity under Timor and seismic mechanisms that indicate an eastward propagating tear in the descending slab as the negatively buoyant oceanic lithosphere detaches from positively buoyant continental lithosphere. On the surface, GPS measurements indicate that the region around Timor is currently no longer connected to the Eurasia plate, but instead is moving at nearly the same velocity as the Australia plate, another consequence of collision.
Large earthquakes in eastern Indonesia occur frequently but interplate megathrust events related to subduction are rare; this is likely due to the disconnection of the descending oceanic slab from the continental margin. There have been 9 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded from the Kai Islands to Sumba since 1900. The largest was the great Banda Sea earthquake of 1938 (M8.5) an intermediate depth thrust faulting event that did not cause significant loss of life.