Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 175, Issue 4, pp 1257–1285 | Cite as

The “Tsunami Earthquake” of 13 April 1923 in Northern Kamchatka: Seismological and Hydrodynamic Investigations

  • Amir Salaree
  • Emile A. Okal


We present a seismological and hydrodynamic investigation of the earthquake of 13 April 1923 at Ust’-Kamchatsk, Northern Kamchatka, which generated a more powerful and damaging tsunami than the larger event of 03 February 1923, thus qualifying as a so-called “tsunami earthquake”. On the basis of modern relocations, we suggest that it took place outside the fault area of the mainshock, across the oblique Pacific-North America plate boundary, a model confirmed by a limited dataset of mantle waves, which also confirms the slow nature of the source, characteristic of tsunami earthquakes. However, numerical simulations for a number of legitimate seismic models fail to reproduce the sharply peaked distribution of tsunami wave amplitudes reported in the literature. By contrast, we can reproduce the distribution of reported wave amplitudes using an underwater landslide as a source of the tsunami, itself triggered by the earthquake inside the Kamchatskiy Bight.


Tsunami Kamchatka landslides simulations 



We thank Bob Engdahl for a customized relocation of the Ust’-Kamchatsk event. We are grateful to Editor A. Rabinovich and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. Olga Yakovenko helped optimize transliteration of Russian names. This research was partly supported by the National Science Foundation, under Grant Number OCE-13-31463 to the University of Pittsburgh; we thank Louise Comfort for her leadership in that joint venture. Some figures were drafted using the GMT software (Wessel and Smith 1991).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth and Planetary SciencesNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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