Infrasound and seismoacoustic signatures of the 28 September 2018 Sulawesi super-shear earthquake

TitleInfrasound and seismoacoustic signatures of the 28 September 2018 Sulawesi super-shear earthquake
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsPilger C, Gaebler P, Ceranna L, Le Pichon A, Vergoz J, Perttu A, Tailpied D, Taisne B
JournalNatural Hazards and Earth System Sciences
Date Published12/2019

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake occurred on 28 September 2018 at 10:02:43 UTC near the city of Palu on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. It was a shallow, strike-slip earthquake with a rupture extending to a length of about 150 km and reaching the surface. Moreover, this earthquake was identified as one of very few events having a super-shear rupture speed.

Clear and long-lasting infrasound signatures related to this event were observed by four infrasound arrays of the International Monitoring System of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization as well as by one national infrasound station in Singapore. Although these infrasound stations SING (Singapore), I39PW (Palau), I07AU (Australia), I40PG (Papua New Guinea) and I30JP (Japan) are located at large distances of between 1800 and 4500 km from the earthquake's epicentral region, the observed infrasound signals associated with this event were intense, including both seismic and acoustic arrivals.

A detailed study of the event-related infrasound observations and the potential infrasound generation mechanisms is presented, covering range-dependent infrasound transmission loss and propagation modeling and characterization of the atmospheric background conditions, as well as identification of the regions of seismoacoustic activity by applying a back-projection method from the infrasound receivers to potential source regions. This back projection of infrasonic arrivals allows one to estimate that the main infrasound source region for the Sulawesi earthquake is related to the extended rupture zone and the nearby topography. This estimation and a comparison to other super-shear as well as large regional earthquakes identify no clear connection between the earthquake's super-shear nature and the strong infrasound emission.