Sumatra Paleoseismology


The most vulnerable communities are often also those that are exposed to some of the most destructive natural hazards (e.g. 2004 Sumatra earthquake and tsunami, 2010 Haiti earthquake, 2015 Nepal earthquake). Some of these communities in West Sumatra may be at risk of suffering another earthquake similar to the 2004 Great Sumatra earthquake in the nearby future. Moreover, the area inland of Padang is even more at risk from earthquakes occurring along the Great Sumatran Fault, where earthquakes similar to the 2010 Haiti earthquake are not uncommon. During the past century, three extremely destructive doublet earthquakes (i.e. two earthquakes occurring closely in space and time) have shaken the region.

During this reconnaissance survey, we aim to study the sedimentary infill of lakes in the vicinity of Padang using two complementary methods:
(1) We will map the faults that cross the lakes using geophysical techniques. This will allow to study the evolution of the faults in the past, in order to estimate future behavior of the faults. Also deposits of underwater landslides will be mapped.
(2) We will sample the sediments below the lake floor using short cores (~1m). Detailed study and dating of these sediments will allow to identify earthquake-triggered deposits (such as underwater landslides) and link them to historical earthquakes.
Finally, we will examine the potential to retrieve a record of prehistoric earthquakes from these lakes at a later stage of the research. Such data will be crucial for future hazard assessments in this vulnerable region.

tectonic_settingSumatra overview map – Adapted from Natawidjaja et al (2007)

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