Geological effects and implications of the 2010 tsunami along the central coast of Chile

Sedimentary Geology
By: , and 



Geological effects of the 2010 Chilean tsunami were quantified at five near-field sites along a 200 km segment of coast located between the two zones of predominant fault slip. Field measurements, including topography, flow depths, flow directions, scour depths, and deposit thicknesses, provide insights into the processes and morphological changes associated with tsunami inundation and return flow. The superposition of downed trees recorded multiple strong onshore and alongshore flows that arrived at different times and from different directions. The most likely explanation for the diverse directions and timing of coastal inundation combines (1) variable fault rupture and asymmetrical slip displacement of the seafloor away from the epicenter with (2) resonant amplification of coastal edge waves. Other possible contributing factors include local interaction of incoming flow and return flow and delayed wave reflection by the southern coast of Peru. Coastal embayments amplified the maximum inundation distances at two sites (2.4 and 2.6 km, respectively). Tsunami vertical erosion included scour and planation of the land surface, inundation scour around the bases of trees, and channel incision from return flow. Sheets and wedges of sand and gravel were deposited at all of the sites. Locally derived boulders up to 1 m in diameter were transported as much as 400 m inland and deposited as fields of dispersed clasts. The presence of lobate bedforms at one site indicates that at least some of the late-stage sediment transport was as bed load and not as suspended load. Most of the tsunami deposits were less than 25 cm thick. Exceptions were thick deposits near open-ocean river mouths where sediment supply was abundant. Human alterations of the land surface at most of the sites provided opportunities to examine some tsunami effects that otherwise would not have been possible, including flow histories, boulder dispersion, and vegetation controls on deposit thickness.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Geological effects and implications of the 2010 tsunami along the central coast of Chile
Series title Sedimentary Geology
DOI 10.1016/j.sedgeo.2011.09.004
Volume 242
Issue 1-4
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Description 18 p.
First page 34
Last page 51
Country Chile
Other Geospatial Central Coast
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