Tsunami Induced by the Strike-Slip Fault of the 2018 Palu Earthquake (Mw = 7.5), Sulawesi Island, Indonesia

Tung Cheng Ho, Kenji Satake, Shingo Watada, Ming Che Hsieh, Ray Y. Chuang, Yosuke Aoki, Iyan E. Mulia, Aditya Riadi Gusman, Chih Heng Lu

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8 Scopus citations


An unusual devastating tsunami occurred on September 28, 2018 after a strike-slip faulting earthquake in Sulawesi, Indonesia. The induced tsunami struck Palu city with ∼4-m flow depth. We performed two analyses to investigate the source of the tsunami. We first conducted the teleseismic source inversion and obtained the overall slip distribution of the strike-slip fault. Our tsunami simulation from the coseismic deformation of the seismically estimated strike-slip faulting produced a tsunami comparable to the leading part of the observation at Pantoloan. In order to reconstruct the detailed slip distribution on the fault plane, we then jointly utilized the tsunami waveform and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data. Because of the lack of SAR data in the bay, the tsunami data is necessary to constrain the offshore slip distribution, which directly induces the tsunami. The inverted source model shows a strike-slip fault which consists of three segments extending from the epicenter to the south of 1.4°S with two bends and two asperities around Palu city. The joint inversion model accurately reconstructs the observed surface displacements and the leading part of the tsunami waveform. Our result exhibits the significant contribution of the strike-slip faulting to the tsunami, but it also suggests additional tsunami sources, such as landslides, for the high inundations near Palu bay. The result also indicates that regional devastating tsunamis can be generated by an onshore strike-slip fault with localized large dip slip.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020EA001400
JournalEarth and Space Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Palu
  • SAR
  • inversion
  • strike-slip
  • teleseismic
  • tsunami


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