Field Signatures of the SE-Asian Mega-Tsunami along the West Coast of Thailand Compared to Holocene Paleo-Tsunami from the Atlantic Region
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The Andaman-Sumatra Tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004, was by far the largest tsunami catastrophe in human history. An earthquake of 9 to 9.3 on the Richter scale, the extension of waves over more than 5000 km of ocean and run-ups up to 35 m are its key features. These characteristics suggest significant changes in coastal morphology and high sediment transport rates. A field survey along the west coast of Thailand (Phuket Island, Khao Lak region including some Similan Islands, Nang Pha mangrove areas and Phi Phi Don Islands) seven to nine weeks after the tsunami, however, discovered only small changes in coastal morphology and a limited amount of dislocated sediments, restricted to the lower meters of the tsunami waves. This is in striking contrast to many paleo-tsunami's events of the Atlantic region. Explanations for this discrepancy are sought in:
a. Mechanics of the earthquake. A rather slow shock impulse on the water masses over the very long earthquake zone,
b. Shallow water in the earthquake zone, and
c. Bathymetry of the foreshore zone at the impacted sites. Shallow water west of Thailand has diminished wave energy significantly. The differences in geomorphological and sedimentological signatures of this tsunami compared with many paleo-tsunami worldwide makes it unsuitable to be used as a model for old and future tsunami imprints by an event of this extreme energy and extension.
KeywordsTsunami Thailand run-up sediment deposits coral reef damage comparison to paleo-tsunami
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