Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Irian Jaya earthquake and tsunami cause serious damage


  • Fumihiko Imamura,

    1. Disaster Control Research Center, Tohoku University, Aoba, Sendai 980-77, Japan
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  • D. Subandono,

  • G. Watson,

  • A. Moore,

  • T. Takahashi,

  • H. Matsutomi,

  • R. Hidayat


On February 17,1996, at 0559 UT, a major earthquake with moment magnitude (Mw) 7.9 killed 107 people and caused major damage at Biak Island, 30–40 km southwest of the earthquake's epicenter (Figures 1 and 2). A devastating tsunami washed away all of the houses at Korim, a small village located in a narrow bay facing directly towards the incoming wave, and it left behind clear evidence of sand erosion and deposition that indicated how far the tsunami advanced. An unexpectedly large tsunami run-up of 7.7 m was measured at Wardo in western Biak, which faces away from the primary tsunami source. This high run-up may have been caused by a local submarine landslide.