Deposits, flow characteristics, and landscape change resulting from the September 2009 South Pacific tsunami in the Samoan islands

Bruce M. Richmond*, Mark Buckley, Samuel Etienne, Catherine Chagué-Goff, Kate Clark, James Goff, D. Dominey-Howes Dale, Luke Strotz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)
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The September 29th 2009 tsunami caused widespread coastal modification within the islands of Samoa and northern Tonga in the South Pacific. Preliminary measurements indicate maximum runup values of around 17. m (Okal et al., 2010) and shore-normal inundation distances of up to ~. 620. m (Jaffe et al., 2010). Geological field reconnaissance studies were conducted as part of an UNESCO-IOC International Tsunami Survey Team survey within three weeks of the event in order to document the erosion, transport, and deposition of sediment by the tsunami. Data collected included: a) general morphology and geological characteristics of the coast, b) evidence of tsunami flow (inundation, flow depth and direction, wave height and runup), c) surficial and subsurface sediment samples including deposit thickness and extent, d) topographic mapping, and e) boulder size and location measurements. Four main types of sedimentary deposits were identified: a) gravel fields consisting mostly of isolated cobbles and boulders, b) sand sheets from a few to ~. 25. cm thick, c) piles of organic (mostly vegetation) and man-made material forming debris ramparts, and d) surface mud deposits that settled from suspension from standing water in the tsunami aftermath. Tsunami deposits within the reef system were not widespread, however, surficial changes to the reefs were observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-51
Number of pages14
JournalEarth-Science Reviews
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2011. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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