The 29 September 2009 Samoa Islands Tsunami: Simulations Based on the First Focal Mechanism Solutions and Implications on Tsunami Early Warning Strategies
The tsunamigenic earthquake (Mw = 8.1) that occurred on 29 September 2009 at 17:48 UTC offshore of the Samoa archipelago east of the Tonga trench represents an example of the so-called outer-rise earthquakes. The areas most affected were the south coasts of Western and American Samoa, where almost 200 people were killed and run-up heights were measured in excess of 5 m at several locations along the coast. Moreover, tide gauge records showed a maximum peak-to-peak height of about 3.5 m near Pago Pago (American Samoa) and of 1.5 m offshore of Apia (Western Samoa). In this work, different fault models based on the focal mechanism solutions proposed by Global CMT and by USGS immediately after the 2009 Samoan earthquake are tested by comparing the near-field recorded signals (three offshore DART buoys and two coastal tide gauges) and the synthetic signals provided by the numerical simulations. The analysis points out that there are lights and shadows, in the sense that none of the computed tsunamis agrees satisfactorily with all the considered signals, although some of them reproduce some of the records quite well. This partial agreement and partial disagreement are analysed in the perspective of tsunami forecast and of Tsunami Early Warning System strategy.