Open Access

Fault models of unusual tsunami in the 17th century along the Kuril trench

  • K. Satake14, 44,
  • F. Nanayama24 and
  • S. Yamaki34
Earth, Planets and Space200860:BF03352848

Received: 20 January 2008

Accepted: 31 July 2008

Published: 15 October 2008


Geologic evidence has shown that unusual tsunami deposits are traced as high as 18 m above the current sea level or as far as 1–4 km inland from the shoreline on the Pacific coast of eastern Hokkaido, and that such unusual tsunamis have recurred at about 500 year interval with the most recent event in the 17th century. We computed coastal tsunami heights along the Hokkaido and Sanriku coasts and inundation at five coastal marshes in Hokkaido where the tsunami deposits were mapped. Three types of faults were tested: giant fault, tsunami earthquake and interplate earthquake models. The giant fault model, with the largest seismic moment, yields the lowest tsunami heights and smaller inundation than the distribution of tsunami deposits in Hokkaido, while the tsunami heights are largest in Sanriku. The tsunami earthquake model yields little inundation in Hokkaido and the smallest heights in Sanriku. The interplate earthquake model produces the largest tsunami heights and inundation in Hokkaido, reproducing the distribution of tsunami deposits on the Nemuro coast. The multi-segment interplate earthquake with variable slip (10 m on Tokachi and 5 m on Nemuro segment) can reproduce the distribution of tsunami deposits on the Tokachi coast as well, and considered as the best source model for the 17th century tsunami, although the Sanriku tsunami heights are more than 3 m, exceeding an inferred detection threshold of historical documents. The seismic moment is estimated as 8 × 1021 N m (Mw 8.5). Comparison with the recent 2003 Tokachi-oki earthquake indicates that the 17th century tsunami source was longer and located further offshore at shallower depth.

Key words

Tsunamitsunami depositnumerical simulationpaleoseismologyKuril trenchmulti-segment earthquake