Tsunami Generating Potential of Makran Subduction Zone

Javaid Hussain*, Fatima Saleem** * Deputy Chief Scientist, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission ** Senior Scientist, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission The seismoteectonic setting of Pakistan is peculiar in the sense that three major tectonic plates (IndoPak, Arabian and Eurasian) are interacting at about 75 km from Karachi in the Arabian Sea. The IndoPak plate disintegrated from Gondwanaland and drifted towards north with anticlockwise rotation due to activity along mid oceanic ridge of paleoocean. It covered approximately 2500 km distance to collide with Eurasian plate. The mighty collision of IndoPak plate with Eurasian plate resulted in the formation of thrust faults known as Main Karakorum thrust (MKT), Main Mantle Thrust (MMT), Main Boundary Thrust (MBT) and Salt Range Thrust (SRT) (Map-1). The western boundary of IndoPak plate with Arabian Plate is marked by sinistral ChamanOrnach Nal fault with dip slip component. Chaman- Ornach Nal fault extends in Arabian Sea as Murray ridge followed by Owen fracture zone. Makran coast hosted by the Arabian plate present to the west of Murray Ridge is actively subducting with low dip angle under Eurasian plate (Map-1). The arc – trench gap is 400 km due to the low angle of the subducting plate. The low angle of subducting plate fortunately results in smaller vertical displacement during a tectonic episode. The evidence of Arabian plate subduction can be observed in the form of fractures, entrapment of clasts of younger Jiwani formation, sub recent material in older Gawadar formation, presence of mud volcanoes, thrust faults, mesa structure and seismites in subrecent and recent sediments. The compression and under thrusting of Arabian plate has resulted in large and great earthquakes mostly associated with thrust fault of oceanic crust in the past. In 1945 an earthquake with magnitude of 8.3 occurred in the offshore region of Pasni. The strike of the fault was 2460 with a dip of 70 and vertical displacement of < 2 meters. As a result a small tsunami was generated and the waves struck the nearby coast of Pasni (25 km away from epicenter) within half an hour. This was however followed by a huge tsunami after two hours which meant that the tsunami was generated due to submarine landslide triggered by the earthquake event. The maximum tsunami height observed was 10 m at Pasni, 5m at Ormara, 1 m at Gawadar, 1.5 m at Karachi and 2 m at Bombay India. The tsunami waves also affected Oman. This is the only known tsunamigenic event with Makran coast. All earthquakes occurred prior to this event i.e. 1483, 1765 and 1851 were non tsunamigenic due to accumulation of argillaceous (clay) sediments at deformation front. An Intensity survey was conducted in 2001 in connection with the 1945 tsunamigenic earthquake of Makran coast which showed intensities of V, VI, X, X, , IX, IX, VIII, VII and VII at Jiwani, Gawadar, Pasni, Ormara, Rach Khaur, Hud, Ras Melan, Agor and Hinglaj respectively at different coastal locations. For the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant site several tsunami studies have been carried out and the JNES code was also used to simulate the tsunami heights from different segments (total length=990 km) of Makran Subduction Zone (Table 1). The worst scenario considered was based on a hypothetical fault with 9.3 magnitude. For this purpose Gebco (1 min. & 30 arc second) and local bathymetric data was used. The results of different scenarios resulted in maximum wave heights of 2.84, 6.82, 5.85, 2.3 m at Karachi Gawadar, Pasni and Ormara respectively. The results of studies are tabulated in table 2. 34

The tectonic tsunamis from Makran coast have been studied by many countries as nuclear power plants in Pakistan, UAE, Iran and India can be affected in the future but there is an urgent need to study the submarine landslide tsunamis from this source. However, these methodologies are still not fully developed and need to be addressed on priority basis.





MAP 1: Table 1:

Location of Pakistan on the northwestern corner of the Indian Plate and regional tectonic features in the area. Fault parameters of different tectonic elements of Makran Subduction Zone.
Case 1 60.000 (deg) 17.500 (deg) 30.00 (Km) 315.00 (deg) 14 (deg) 89 (deg) 300 (Km) 75 (Km) 15 (m) Case 2 64.6232 (deg) 24.553 (deg) 10 (Km) 270 (deg) 10 (deg) 89 (deg) 400 (Km) 150 (Km) 14 (m) Case 3 64.6232 (deg) 24.5553 (deg) 10 (Km) 270 (deg) 10 (deg) 89 (deg) 602.75 (Km) 150 (Km) 13 (m) Case 4 64.6232 (deg) 24.5553 (deg) 10 (Km) 270 (deg) 10 (deg) 89 (deg) 602.75 (Km) 150 (Km) 20 (m)

Fault Parameters Epicenter Longitude Epicenter Latitude Depth Strike Angle Dip Angle Slip Angle Length Width Dislocation

Table 2:

Maximum waves heights using Tsunami JNES code generated by different tectonic elements of Makran Subduction Zone.
Out Put Points Gwadar 1 Ormara 1 Pasni Clifton Karachi Location Latitude 25.19 25.18 25.1784 24.79 24.844 Latitude 62.09 64.71 63.4635 67.03 66.793 Case 1 1.83 2.489 2.54 2.534 Max Wave Height (meters) Case 2 Case 3 5.28 3.995 1.683 1.5 3.436 3.334 2.02 1.967 1.85 1.632

Sr. No. 1 2 3 4 5

Case 4 6.82 2.3 5.85 2.458 2.842


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