Several laterally extensive candidate tsunami deposits are preserved along coastlines facing the eastern Java Trench, indicating it has experienced mega-thrust earthquakes in the past. We investigated 37 coastal sites in Bali, Lombok, Sumba and Timor islands, many of which preserve course sand and pebble layers that overlie sharp basal contacts with scour marks into the mud, fine upward in grain size, and have bimodal grain size distributions. Other unique features are the common occurrence of marine fossils and concentrations of heavy minerals. The occurrence of these high-energy deposits interlayered with clay-rich units indicates the coarse clastics are anomalous because they were deposited in what is normally a very low-energy depositional environment. The lateral extent and paucity of thin, coarse clastic layers with marine organisms are inconsistent with local stream flood event, and the proximity to the equator of the sites diminishes the possibility of marine flood events from cyclones. The sparse, but consistent, the occurrence of at least two candidate tsunami deposits at depths of 1 and 2 meters over 950 km along the strike of the Java Trench may reveal that mega-thrust earthquakes have occurred there and generated giant tsunamis in the recent past.Five widely scattered imbricated boulder deposits are also found on Bali, Lombok, and Sumba. The boulders consist of slabs of hardpan up to 2.5 m in length and 80 cm thick that was torn from a near-shore seabed and stacked on top of one another. Some of the boulders were carried over the erosional coastal bank and deposited up to 100 meters inland. Comparisons with imbricated boulder ridges formed during the 1994 tsunami in east Java indicate that these deposits are from one or multiple tsunamis sourced by the Java Trench.Experiments in effective ways to communicate and implement tsunami disaster mitigation strategies have led us to train local communities about the 20-20-20 rule. If coastal communities experience more than 20 seconds of shaking from an earthquake, even if it is not intense, they should evacuate the coast. The time delay between the earthquake and arrival of tsunami waves is around 20 minutes, which is the time window for evacuation. Some tsunami waves may be as high as 20 meters, which is the target elevation for evacuation. Adopting the 20-20-20 rule could save thousands of lives throughout the region, especially in Bali where nearly 1 million people inhabit likely tsunami inundation zones.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Geological Sciences



Date Submitted


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Tsunami deposits, Sunda Arc, Indonesia, subduction zone, earthquakes, imbricated boulders, tsunami disaster mitigation