Re-examination of the source mechanism of the 1998 Papua New Guinea earthquake and tsunami

Fumihiko Imamura, Kazumasa Hashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Simulation of tsunami propagation and runup of the 1998 Papua New Guinea (PNG) earthquake tsunami using the detailed bathymetry measured by JAMSTEC and adding bathymetric data at depths less than 60 m is carried out, reproducing the tsunami energy focus into Warapu and Arop along the Sissano Lagoon. However, the computed runup heights in the lagoon are still lower than those measured. Even if the error in estimating the fault parameters is taken into consideration, computational results are similar. Analysis by the wave ray method using several scenarios of the source size of the tsunami and location by the wave ray method suggests that a source characterized by small size in water 1,000-m deep approximately 25 km offshore the lagoon, best fits the arrival determined from the interviews with eyewitnesses. A two-layer numerical model simulating the interaction of the tsunami with a landslide is employed to study the behavior of a landslide-generated tsunami with different size sand depths of the initial slide just outside the lagoon. A landslide model with a volume of 4-8 x 109 m3 is selected as the best in order to reproduce the distribution of the measured tsunami runup in the lagoon. The simulation of a tsunami generated in two stages, fault and landslide, could show good agreement with the runup heights and distribution of the arrival time, but a time gap of around 10 minutes remains, suggesting that a tsunami generated by the mainshock at 6:49 PM local time is too small for people to notice, and the following tsunami triggered by landslide or mass movement near the lagoon about ten minutes after the mainshock attacked the coast and caused the huge damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2071-2086
Number of pages16
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Issue number10-11
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Oct


  • Landslide
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Tsunami
  • Wave ray

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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