Source Models of the 2012 Haida Gwaii (Canada) and 2015 Illapel (Chile) Earthquakes and Numerical Simulations of Related Tsunamis

Seda Yolsal-Çevikbilen*, Ergin Ulutaş, Tuncay Taymaz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Seismological observations provide essential input parameters for numerical tsunami simulations. Here, we present source mechanism parameters, finite-fault source rupture models and numerical tsunami simulation results for the destructive October 28, 2012 Haida Gwaii-Canada (Mw 7.7) and September 16, 2015 Illapel-Chile (Mw 8.3) earthquakes and resulting tsunamis. These two earthquakes were controlled by active tectonic features along the subduction zones that had developed in response to the convergent movements of lithospheric plates. The faulting geometry (strike, dip, and rake angles), focal depth, fault dimensions, average and maximum slip values on the fault planes and seismic moments of the earthquakes are estimated by analyzing teleseismic long-period P- and SH-waves and broadband P-waveforms and using waveform inversion and hybrid back-projection methods. The obtained slip models of the earthquakes reveal heterogeneous slip distributions on fault planes with long source durations (~ 80 s and 150 s) and low stress drop values (10–15 bars). Numerical simulations of tsunami wave propagation are further performed using the uniform and non-uniform slip models and nonlinear long-wave equations in spherical coordinates. The shape and arrival times of leading tsunami waves are adequately constrained particularly with the heterogeneous slip distribution models. The general characteristics of synthetic tsunami waveforms (e.g., amplitude, shape, arrival time) calculated using the non-uniform slip model, are more consistent with the observed tsunami records than those of a uniform slip model. It is further seen that simulation results using preliminary and fast slip models for both earthquakes give only approximate early tsunami estimates; tsunami wave heights and arrival times to the coasts are mostly not well simulated. The results indicate that tsunami simulations based on finite-fault source slip models likely contribute to the determination of tsunamigenic coastal regions by revealing locations, arrival times, amplitudes, and directions of tsunami waves within a close approximation to observed records off-shore and far from the source region. They provide sufficient information to facilitate tsunami warning and mitigation challenges after the destructive earthquakes. We further suggest that joint inversions of GPS, tsunami, teleseismic and strong ground motion records and higher resolution bathymetry data are needed in order to obtain better correlations between observed and synthetic tsunami data, especially for the later arriving waves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2995-3033
Number of pages39
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


This study is supported by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK, Project No: ÇAYDAG-114Y066). We would like to thank the İstanbul Technical University Research Fund (İTÜ-BAP) and Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung (AvH) for their financial support. Generic Mapping Tools (GMT) (Wessel and Smith ) and SAC2000 (Goldstein et al. ) software packages were used to prepare figures, and to process conventional earthquake data, respectively. Waveform data are recorded by the Global Digital Seismograph Network (GDSN) and by the International Federation of Digital Seismograph Networks (FDSN) stations, and archived and distributed by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology-Data Management Center (IRIS-DMC). Earthquake hypocenters are taken from the USGS-NEIC earthquake catalogue. Tsunami waves and their interaction with various topographies were numerically modeled using the SWAN code (Mader ). ArcMap tools (ESRI ) were used to prepare initial wave height and tsunami simulation figures. We would like to thank Alessandro Annunziato for sharing the Tsunami Analysis Tool (TAT) (Annunziato ). We appreciate much judicial evaluations of Alexander B. Rabinovich, Fred Stephenson, anonymous referees and beneficial discussions with Tuna Eken to improve the manuscript.

FundersFunder number
Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung
Türkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Araştirma Kurumu
Istanbul Teknik Üniversitesi


    • Earthquake source parameters
    • finite-fault slip distribution
    • hybrid back-projection
    • numerical tsunami simulation


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