Special Issue: The 2004 Great Sumatra Earthquake and Tsunami
Sedimentary deposits of the 26 December 2004 tsunami on the northwest coast of Aceh, Indonesia
Earth, Planets and Space volume 58, pages 253–258 (2006)
The 2004 Sumatra-Andaman tsunami flooded coastal northern Sumatra to a depth of over 20 m, deposited a discontinuous sheet of sand up to 80 cm thick, and left mud up to 5 km inland. In most places the sand sheet is normally graded, and in some it contains complex internal stratigraphy. Structures within the sand sheet may record the passage of up to 3 individual waves. We studied the 2004 tsunami deposits in detail along a flow-parallel transect about 400 m long, 16 km southwest of Banda Aceh. Near the shore along this transect, the deposit is thin or absent. Between 50 and 400 m inland it ranges in thickness from 5 to 20 cm. The main trend in thickness is a tendency to thicken by filling low spots, most dramatically at pre-existing stream channels. Deposition generally attended inundation—along the transect, the tsunami deposited sand to within about 40 m of the inundation limit. Although the tsunami deposit contains primarily material indistinguishable from material found on the beach one month after the event, it also contains grain sizes and compositions unavailable on the current beach. Along the transect we studied, these grains become increasingly dominant both landward and upward in the deposit; possibly some landward source of sediment was exposed and exploited by the passage of the waves. The deposit also contains the unabraded shells of subtidal marine organisms, suggesting that at least part of the deposit came from offshore. Grain sizes within the deposit tend to fine upward and landward, although individual units within the deposit appear massive, or show reverse grading. Sorting becomes better landward, although the most landward sites generally become poorly sorted from the inclusion of soil clasts. These sites commonly show interlayering of sandy units and soil clast units. Deposits from the 2004 tsunami in Sumatra demonstrate the complex nature of the deposits of large tsunamis. Unlike the deposits of smaller tsunamis, internal stratigraphy is complex, and will require some effort to understand. The Sumatra deposits also show the contribution of multiple sediment sources, each of which has its own composition and grain size. Such complexity may allow more accurate modeling of flow depth and flow velocity for paleotsunamis, if an understanding of how tsunami hydraulics affect sedimentation can be established.
Atwater, B. F., S. Musumi-Rokkaku, K. Satake, Y. Tsuji, K. Ueda, and D. K. Yamaguchi, The orphan tsunami of 1700-Japanese clues to a parent earthquake in North America, U.S. Geological Survey professional Paper 1707, 133, 2005.
Bennett, J. D., D. M. Bridge, N. R. Cameron, A. Djunuddin, S. A. Ghazali, D. H. Jeffery, W. Keats, N. M. S. Rock, S. J. Thompson, and R. Whandoyo, Geologic map of the Banda Aceh quadrangle, North Sumatra, Bandung, Indonesia, Geological Research and Development Centre, 1980.
Cisternas, M., B. F. Atwater, F. Torrejón, Y. Sawai, G. Machuca, M. Lagos, A. Eipert, C. Youlton, I. Salgado, T. Kamataki, M. Shishikura, C. P. Rajendran, J. K. Malik, Y. Rizal, and M. Husni, Predecessors of the 1960 giant Chile earthquake, Nature, 437, 404–407, 2005.
Dawson, A. G., S. Shi, S. Dawson, T. Takahashi, and N. Shuto, Coastal sedimentation associated with the June 2nd and 3rd, 1994 tsunami in Rajegwesi, Java, Quaternary Science Reviews, 15, 901–912, 1996.
Gelfenbaum, G. and B. Jaffe, Erosion and sedimentation from the 17 July, 1998 Papua New Guinea Tsunami, Pure and Applied Geophysics, 160, 1969–1999, 2003.
Hamzah, L., N. T. Puspito, and F. Imamura, Tsunami catalog and zones in Indonesia, Journal of Natural Disaster Science, 22, 25–43, 2000.
Kamataki, T and Y. Nishimura, Field Survey of the 2004 Off-Sumatra earthquake tsunami around the Banda Aceh, Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, Journal of Geography, 114, 78–82, 2005 (in Japanese).
Konno, E. (ed.), Geological observations of the Sanriku coastal region damaged by tsunami due to the Chile earthquake in 1960, Contributions to the Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Tohoku University, 52, 1–40, 1961.
Minoura, K., F. Imamura, T. Takahashi, and N. Shuto, Sequence of sedimentation processes caused by the 1992 Flores tsunami, Geology, 25, 523–526, 1997.
Nanayama, F, K. Satake, R. Furukawa, K. Shimokawa, B. F. Atwater, K. Shigeno, and S. Yamaki, Unusually large earthquakes inferred from tsunami deposits along the Kuril trench, Nature, 424, 660–663, 2003.
Nishimura, Y. and N. Miyaji, Tsunami deposits from the 1993 Southwest Hokkaido earthquake and the 1640 Hokkaido Komagatake eruption, Northern Japan, in Tsunamis: 1992–1994, Their Generation, Dynamics, and Hazard, edited by K. Satake and F Imamura, pp. 719–734, Basel, Birkhäuser, 1995.
Pinegina, T. K., J. Bourgeois, L. I. Bazanova, I. V. Melekestsev, and O. A. Braitseva, A millennial-scale record of Holocene tsunamis on the Kronotskiy Bay coast, Kamchatka, Russia, Quaternary Research, 59, 36–47, 2003.
Sato, H., T. Shimamoto, A. Tsutsumi, and E. Kawamoto, Onshore tsunami deposits caused by the 1993 Southwest Hokkaido and 1983 Japan Sea earthquakes, in Tsunamis: 1992–1994, Their Generation, Dynamics, and Hazard, edited by K. Satake and F Imamura, pp. 693–717, Basel, Birkhauser, 1995.
Shi, S., A. G. Dawson, and D. E. Smith, Coastal sedimentation associated with the December 12th, 1992 tsunami in Flores, Indonesia, in Tsunamis: 1992–1994, Their Generation, Dynamics, and Hazard, edited by K. Satake and F. Imamura, pp. 525–536, Basel, Birkhauser, 1995.
Tanioka, Y., Yudhicara, T. Kusunose, S. Kathiroli, Y Nishimura, S. Iwasaki, and K. Satake, Rupture process of the 2004 great Sumatra-Andaman earthquake estimated from tsunami waveforms, Earth Planets Space, 58, this issue, 203–209, 2006.
Wright, C. and A. Mella, Modifications to the soil pattern of south-central Chile resulting from seismic and associated phenomena during the period May to August 1960, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 53, 1367–1402, 1963.
About this article
Cite this article
Moore, A., Nishimura, Y., Gelfenbaum, G. et al. Sedimentary deposits of the 26 December 2004 tsunami on the northwest coast of Aceh, Indonesia. Earth Planet Sp 58, 253–258 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1186/BF03353385
- Tsunami deposit
- 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami