Twenty-Five Years (1992–2016) of Global Tsunamis: Statistical and Analytical Overview

  • Viacheslav K. GusiakovEmail author
  • Paula K. Dunbar
  • Nicolás Arcos


The paper presents the analysis of global tsunami occurrence from 1992 to 2016. During this 25-year period, 290 tsunamis in marine basins and tsunami-like events in inland waters were registered. While this period represents less than 1% of the total catalog duration (ca. 4000 years), it contains almost 12% of the total number of historical events and nearly 54% of the total run-up and inundation depth measurements. The latter is mainly due to the data obtained in the field surveys of two trans-oceanic mega-tsunamis that occurred within this period—the December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami (1625 total measurements) and the March 11, 2011 Tohoku tsunami (6271 total measurements). Among 290 registered tsunamis and tsunami-like events, there were 95 damaging or potentially-damaging events that had maximum run-up or inundation height > 1 m and 32 destructive tsunamis that resulted in human fatalities. As throughout history, the Pacific continues to be the main tsunamigenic region with 223 events (77%) that occurred within its basin; 26 events (9%) occurred in the Indian Ocean, 26 events (9%) in the Atlantic, and 15 events (5%) in the Mediterranean region. Six tsunami-like events occurred in internal basins (rivers and lakes). The complete statistics of the recent tsunamis in the form of their distribution over type of sources, validity, fatalities and damaging effects, intensity, and warning efficiency are presented. The paper also outlines and discusses the existing problems with data compilation, cataloging and distribution, and discusses incompleteness of run-up and wave-form data for a considerable number of non-damaging tsunamis, even those resulting from strong (magnitude higher than 7.5) submarine earthquakes.


Tsunami tsunamigenic regions historical catalogs historical databases post-event surveys 



Some figures in the paper were drawn using procedures built in the PDM/TSU graphic shell (PDM/TSU 2018) developed in the NTL/ICMMG SD RAS as supporting software for GTDB maintenance. The authors wish to thank Fred Stephenson and Robert Geller for careful reading the manuscript and making numerous suggestions for its improvement as well as Tamara Kalashnikova for assistance in figures and tables preparation. The results presented in this paper were partly supported by the RFBR Grant 16-05-00450.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Computational Mathematics and Mathematical Geophysics (ICMMG)NovosibirskRussia
  2. 2.Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)University of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUSA
  3. 3.NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI)AshevilleUSA

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