Project Overview

Since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, we have built a ~8000-year seismic and tsunami history for the northern patch of the Sunda Megathrust. However, the Sunda Megathrust ruptures in patches and little is known about the paleo-tsunami activity south of the 2004 rupture patch. We will use geological field methods to extend the record of paleo-tsunami events to the entire west coast of Sumatra. The resultant dataset will be used to better define the boundaries of rupture patches along the Megathrust. This proposal will test three research hypotheses regarding megathrust behaviour and coastal response: (1) Coastal sites along the west coast of Sumatra preserve evidence of large tsunamis generated by megathrust earthquakes, including tsunami-related deposits, landforms, and archaeological records; (2) Main drivers of heterogeneity in tsunami deposits remain consistent through time; and (3) Megathrust rupture boundaries vary through time.

Our primary scientific aim for 2020 is to locate buried sand sheets in coastal deposits along the entire Acehnese stretch of the Sumatran coastline. We aim to find buried tsunami sands in two regions of the Sumatran coastline. The first study region comprises three wetland sites near Meudhen, Lho Kruet and Kuede Panga villages. These villages fall between the coastal cave in the north explored in previous years by EOS and Meoulaboh in the south where Monecke et al. (2008) found tsunami deposits in beach ridge sequences. All of these areas were inundated by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Our second study region consists of wetland sites near the villages/towns of Sikandang, Koeala Batèe, Kotafajar and Kuta Padang. These are located to the south of the southern-most extent of the 2004 tsunami inundation. Our goal is to see if we can find buried tsunami sands further south of the 2004 zone and rupture patch. Together, these investigations will allow us to better understand the recurrence of past tsunamis within the 2004 zone and establish proof of concept for future paleo-tsunami studies further south along the Sumatran coast. 

Our proposed research methodology consists of four tasks that address the three research hypotheses:

1. Relative sea-level (RSL) history. We will develop a RSL database and use the latest glacial isostatic adjustment models to assess the accommodation space needed for preserving coseismic land-level change and tsunami deposits.
 
2. Stratigraphy, sedimentology and geomorphology. We have used satellite imagery to identify ~12 sites that are likely to archive evidence of coseismic land-level change and tsunami deposits. Following reconnaissance studies, we will perform detailed topographic surveys, map landforms and conduct stratigraphic surveys to interpret evidence for coseismic land-level changes and tsunami inundation. 
 
3. Identify and map local tsunami deposits. We will identify anomalous beds of sand in low-energy environments where they would not normally occur, such as mangroves and freshwater marshes, coastal lakes, and swales well landward of the beach. We will apply to the TSUFLINT inverse sediment transport model to reconstruct flow depth, speed and sediment transport from paleo-tsunami deposits.
 
4. Geochronology. We will establish the timing of paleo-tsunami events and thus address whether the megathrust rupture boundaries vary through time using AMS 14C dating of plant macrofossil and charcoal.

Funding Sources

  • Earth Observatory of Singapore

Project Years

2020, 2021, 2022

Related Projects

Novel framework for probabilistic sea-level projections for Singapore and surrounding regions

Future sea-level rise will generate hazards for coastal populations, economies, and infrastructure o...
Read Project Details

Relative sea-level changes along the Northern Sea Route: from patterns and rates to drivers and mechanisms

The rapidly changing climate, rising temperatures and declining Arctic Sea ice have the potential to...
Read Project Details

Driving mechanisms of past and present sea-level change to quantify projection uncertainties

The limited instrumental and paleo sea-level reconstructions in Singapore and Southeast Asia hinder ...
Read Project Details

Constraining Common Era relative sea-level changes

Our understanding of Common Era (last 2000 years) sea levels are derived from a variety of proxy rel...
Read Project Details

The contribution of solid Earth deformation to sea-level change

Regional relative sea level (RSL) differs from the global mean due largely to Glacial Isostatic Adju...
Read Project Details

Publications

Year 2019

The Historic Trading Port of Lamri on the North Sumatran Coast

Patrick Daly, Andrew Parnell, Edmund Edwards McKinnon, Kerry Sieh, Nazli Ismail, R Michael Feener, et al.

Year 2020

The impact of Ming and Qing dynasty maritime bans on trade ceramics recovered from coastal settlements in northern Sumatra, Indonesia

Yew Seng Tai, Andrew C. Parnell, Edmund Edwards McKinnon, Jedrzej M. Majewski, Kerry Sieh, Michael Feener, et al.

Year 2019

Archaeological evidence that a late 14th-century tsunami devastated the coast of northern Sumatra and redirected history

Patrick Daly, Andrew C. Parnell, Edmund Edwards McKinnon, Kerry Sieh, Michael Feener, Nazli Ismail, et al.

The Team

Benjamin HORTON

Benjamin HORTON

Director, EOS

Patrick DALY

Patrick DALY

Senior Research Fellow

Adam SWITZER

Adam SWITZER

Principal Investigator

Jedrzej MAJEWSKI

Jedrzej MAJEWSKI

Research Fellow

Aron MELTZNER

Aron MELTZNER

Principal Investigator

Collaborators

Nazli Ismail, Tsunami and Disaster Mitigation Research Center, Syiah Kuala University

Subscribe to the EOS Newsletter

Stay in touch with the latest news, events, research, and publications from the Earth Observatory of Singapore.

Email is required

Email is wrong format

You Can Make a Difference

Partner with us to make an impact and create safer, more sustainable societies throughout Southeast Asia.
Make A Gift