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.
A 20 to 30-ft high retaining wall in a subdivision in San Antonio Texas failed on Sunday causing an evacuation of 80 homes. After an initial inspection, some 55 home-owners were allowed to return. The massive tension cracks that opened along the wall and behind it were 12-15-ft deep and 6-8-ft wide. Reportedly, the wall had problems even before the subdivision was even constructed. More after the break. (Photo by Jerry Lara – San Antonio Express-News)
Back in March of 2008 there was a landslide that closed SR 87 in between Phoenix, Arizona and Payson. It’s been of great interest to me since it is in my state and affected a highway. I was hoping my firm (NCS Consultants, LLC) might be asked to work on the remediation through our on-call contract but it didn’t happen. Its probably for the best, it sounds like it’s been a troublesome geotechnical engineering problem. Fast forward to last week, and the slide area was in the news again because the slope is still moving and apparently causing some additional deformation of the roadway. (Photo by ADOT)
I had heard about this a while ago through our ADOT contacts, but I make it a policy not to take advantage of my contacts through my day job for GeoPrac.net content (not without permission anyway). So I didn’t want to blog about it until it hit the mainstream media. Last week, the Arizona State Geologist blogged about the SR 87 slide moving again, as did Ken through his AEG Arizona Section blog. It was even covered on one of my favorite blogs, Dave’s Landslide Blog. I finally have a chance to wade through these blog posts and some of the reports and videos to present a summary of the situation, available information and offer my own perspective. (More after the break)