Reconstructing the Anak Krakatau flank collapse that caused the December 2018 Indonesian tsunami

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: This is version 4 of this Preprint.


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Rebecca Williams , Pete Rowley , Matthew C. Garthwaite


Volcanogenic tsunamis are one of the deadliest volcanic phenomena. Understanding their triggering processes and mitigating their effect remains a major challenge. On 22 December 2018, flank failure of the Anak Krakatau volcano in Indonesia generated a tsunami which killed more than 400 people. This event was captured in unprecedented detail by high-resolution satellite imagery and eyewitness accounts. Here we combine historic observations with these recent data to - for the first time - interpret the internal architecture of Anak Krakatau, and reconstruct the failure, tsunamigenesis and regrowth processes observed. We calculate the volume of material initially lost from the volcano flank failure and find that it was relatively small (~0.1 km3) compared to the overall changes observed during the entire eruption but was nonetheless able to generate rapid tsunami waves with devastating impacts. The flank failure also changed the eruption style and upper volcanic plumbing system, with these subsequent explosive eruptions destroying the summit and then partially rebuilding the lost flank. The nature of the flank failure was controlled by the internal structure of the island, and - although regrowth rate will be a primary control on flank failure intervals - the reconfiguring of the volcano’s internal vent network is likely to have re-stabilised it in the medium term. The findings demonstrate that hazard assessments at ocean islands must consider that even small flank failures, during unexceptional eruptions, can have catastrophic consequences.



Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Volcanology


tsunami, volcanology, Volcano, Anak Krakatau, flank collapse, flank failure


Published: 2019-02-15 12:55

Last Updated: 2019-09-02 17:34

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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