New Zealand's most easterly palaeotsunami deposit confirms evidence for major trans-Pacific event

J. Goff, K. Goto, C. Chagué, M. Watanabe, P. S. Gadd, D. N. King

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Sedimentary, geochemical, geomorphological, radiocarbon and numerical modelling data were used to examine the nature, extent and age of a boulder scatter at Okawa Point, Chatham Island, New Zealand. Boulders up to 98 t were traced around 800 m inland and comprised both a landward and seaward grouping on either side of a mid-Holocene high-stand storm ridge dated to around 4840–4810 cal BP. The landward boulder scatter was linked with an enigmatic coarse sand/gravel layer that extends up to 1100 m inland and has been dated to around 3500–4500 cal BP. Numerical modelling indicated that while the seaward boulders that mainly rest upon the Chatham Island Schist shore platform could have been emplaced by either storm or tsunami waves, those landward of the mid-Holocene storm ridge were most probably transported by a tsunami. There are several near-contemporaneous palaeotsunami deposits reported from mainland New Zealand, Australia, SW Pacific and the wider Pacific region. If some or all of these are associated with the same basin-wide palaeotsunami then it appears likely to have been one of the largest Holocene Pacific palaeotsunamis. An analysis of historical and numerically modelled data suggests that the most likely candidate is from within the northern Chile seismic gap, with early evidence suggesting that a large palaeoseismic and palaeotsunami event may have occurred around 4000 yr BP. If correct, this has important implications for assessing the largest possible magnitude earthquakes in the northern Chile seismic gap and the size of the tsunamis they generate.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)158-173
    Number of pages16
    JournalMarine Geology
    Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct 1


    • 4000 yr BP
    • Boulders
    • Chatham Islands
    • Fine sediment
    • Northern Chile
    • Palaeotsunami
    • Tsunamis and their deposits

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Oceanography
    • Geology
    • Geochemistry and Petrology


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