Modeling of the Dec. 22nd 2018 Anak Krakatau volcano lateral collapse and tsunami based on recent field surveys: Comparison with observed tsunami impact

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The Dec. 22, 2018 lateral collapse of the Anak Krakatau (AK) volcano in the Sunda Straits of Indonesia discharged volcaniclastic material into the 250 m deep caldera southwest of the volcano and generated a large tsunami, causing runups of up to 85 m in the near-field, and 13.5 m in the far-field, on the nearby coasts of Sumatra and Java. The tsunami caused 437 fatalities, the greatest number from a volcanically-induced tsunami since the catastrophic explosive caldera-forming eruption of Krakatau in 1883 and the sector collapse of Ritter Island in 1888. For the first time in over 100 years, the 2018 AK event provides an opportunity to study a major volcanically-generated tsunami that caused widespread loss of life and significant damage. Here, we present numerical simulations of the collapse and tsunami generation, propagation, and coastal impact, with state-of the-art numerical models, using both a new parametrization of the collapse and a near-field bathymetric dataset based on our 2019 field surveys and satellite images. These subaerial and submarine data sets are used to constrain the geometry and magnitude of the landslide mechanism, which show that the primary landslide scar bisected the AK edifice, cutting behind the central vent and removing 50% of its subaerial volume. The primary landslide volume is estimated to range from 0.175–0.313 km3, based on uncertainties in the shape of the submerged part of the failure plane. This is supported by an independent estimate of the primary landslide deposit volume of 0.214 ± 0.036 km3. Given uncertainties in the failure volume, we define a range of potential failure surfaces that span these values in 4 collapse scenarios of volume ranging from 0.175 to 0.313 km3. These AK collapses are modeled, assuming either a granular or viscous fluid rheology, together with their corresponding tsunami generation and propagation. Observations of a single tsunami, with no subsequent waves, are consistent with our interpretation of landslide failure in a rapid, single phase of movement rather than a more piecemeal process, generating a tsunami which reached nearby coastlines within ~30 min. For both modeled rheologies, the 0.224 km3 collapse (second and preferred scenario) most successfully reproduces the near- and far-field tsunami flow depth and runup observed in all post-event field survey results, tide gauge records, and eyewitness reports to date, suggesting our estimated landslide volume range is appropriate. This event highlights the significant hazard posed by relatively small-scale lateral volcanic collapses, which can occur en-masse, without any precursory signals, and are an efficient and unpredictable tsunami source. Our successful simulations demonstrate that current numerical models can accurately forecast tsunami hazards from these events. In cases such as Anak Krakatau's, the absence of precursory warning signals, together with the short travel time following tsunami initiation present a major challenge for mitigating tsunami coastal impact, stressing the need to develop and install early warning systems for such events.

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Marine Geology