Until recently, scientists were puzzled why an earthquake of only 7.5 magnitude caused a devastating tsunami that killed over 2,000 people on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia in September of 2018. The earthquake didn’t even trigger the tsunami early warning system as normally a tsunami of the size (wave height up to 11m or 36 ft) would require an 8.4 or higher magnitude earthquake. A new study published in the journal Pure and Applied Geophysics has found that the cause of the tsunami was actually a marine landslide in Palu Bay on the west coast of Sulawesi. A combination of computer modeling and observation of the actual sea level data from the event was used to reach their conclusion. They observed a wave period that was very short, consistent with the 3 to 4 minutes expected based on the modeling of a marine landslide compared to the 15 to 60 minute periods for an earthquake-induced tsunami.
The Chilliwack Times reports that the City of Chilliwack will pay 80% of the assessed home value for up to 42 homes in an Eastern Hillside subdivision that are located on a slow moving landslide. The issue was first noticed in 2001 and several homes have had significant damage, but most are currently undamaged. The City denies any responsibility, but it’s legal counsel recommended a settlement. (Photo by Paul J. Henderson, Chilliwack Times)
Normally the geotechnical engineer for the subdivision would be held accountable. But apparently the slip surface is located 30-m below grade, much deeper than borings for a typical investigation for a subdivision. I wonder if there were any geologists consulted? Click through for a Google map view of the area and you can do your own armchair photogeology quarterbacking! Your heart does go out to the people losing their homes, they had no idea. But it could be worse, they could be in La Jolla and be getting squat.
The National Geodetic Data Center (NGDC) of NOAA has an online collection of photos of various geologic hazards. Many of the photos are from older sets of 35mm slides that have been digitized. They are free to use provided you credit the photographer and the NGDC as the source. The would be really useful for educators and for powerpoint presentations. The only drawback is that they are in TIF format and some of them could use some retouching. (Photo by University of Colorado, made available by NOAA/NGDC)