Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 176, Issue 8, pp 3305–3321 | Cite as

Tsunami Hazard and Built Environment Damage Observations from Palu City after the September 28 2018 Sulawesi Earthquake and Tsunami

  • Ryan PaulikEmail author
  • Aditya Gusman
  • James H. Williams
  • Gumbert Maylda Pratama
  • Sheng-lin Lin
  • Alamsyah Prawirabhakti
  • Ketut Sulendra
  • Muhammad Yasser Zachari
  • Zabin Ellyni Dwi Fortuna
  • Novita Barrang Pare Layuk
  • Ni Wayan Ika Suwarni
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Sulawesi/Palu-2018 and Anak/Krakatau-2018


The 2018 Sulawesi earthquake (Mw 7.5) and tsunami destroyed many buildings and caused more than 3300 fatalities in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Damage reports and satellite images from Palu City indicated severe tsunami impacts to buildings and lifelines infrastructure within 300 m from the coastline. Seven-weeks after the earthquake a field survey was carried out in Palu City to measure tsunami flow depths and record damage levels for buildings, roads and electricity infrastructure. Above ground level tsunami flow depths measured at 371 building sites ranged from 0.1 to 3.65 m, with a 1.05 m mean and 0.55 m standard deviation. The survey team also recorded attributes and damage levels for 463 buildings, 7.9 km of road and 455 utility poles. We observed that non-engineered ‘light timber’ and ‘lightly reinforced concrete’ construction frame buildings were highly susceptible to ‘non-structural’ component damage when tsunami flow depths respectively exceed 0.4 m and 1 m above the first finished floor level, while unrepairable or complete building damage was regularly observed when flow depths exceeded 1.2 m. Only non-structural component damage was observed for engineered ‘reinforced concrete’ buildings. While tsunami flow depth traces could not be measured for affected road and utility pole components, hazard intensity parameters can be obtained from tsunami inundation maps to estimate the conditions contributing to observed damage levels. The information presented herein forms an important evidence base to support future tsunami hazard and risk research in Indonesia.


Tsunami flow depth tsunami impact post-event Survey Palu City Indonesia 



The authors are sincerely gratefully to the people of Palu City for supporting our field survey activities. The authors would like to thank the Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG) and Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education (MORTHE). We acknowledge and thank all supporters of the survey including: GNS Science (Project: 470RSS10-00), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZ); National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Project: CARW1901); University of Canterbury (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Natural Hazard Research Platform contract C05X0804); Universitas Gadjah Mada; Universitas Tadulako. The field team were provided excellent logistical support by the StirrrD project team (Ben Payne, Faisal Fathani, Fransisca Ediningtyas, Michele Daly and Richard Woods) and Universitas Tadulako (Amar Akbar Ali; Andi Rusdin and Ida Sri Oktaviana). We also acknowledge the excellent support of Laura Kong from UNESCO ITIC and Ardito Kodijat from UNESCO IOTIC in facilitating our field survey activities. LiDAR data for Palu City was provided by Australia-Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction (AIFDR).

Supplementary material

24_2019_2254_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (84 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 84 kb)


  1. Arikawa, T., Muhari, A., Okumura, Y., Dohi, Y., Afriyanto, B., Sujatmiko, K., et al. (2018). Coastal subsidence induced several tsunamis during the 2018 Sulawesi earthquake. Journal of Disaster Research. Scholar
  2. Badan M, Klimatologi, dan Geofisika (BMKG). (2018). Laporan survey lapangan tsunami Donggala 28 September 2018, Tim BMKG Pusat, Balai IV, Palu, Gowa.Google Scholar
  3. Borrero, J. C. (2005). Field survey of Northern Sumatra and Banda Aceh, Indonesia after the tsunami and earthquake of 26 December 2004. Seismological Research Letters, 76(3), 312–320. Scholar
  4. Borrero, J.C., Weiss, R., Okal, E. A., Hidayat, R., Suranto, et al. (2009). The tsunami of 2007 September 12, Bengkulu province, Sumatra, Indonesia: post-tsunami field survey and numerical modelling. Geophysical Journal International, 178(1), 180–194;
  5. Choi, B. H., Hong, S. J., & Pelinovsky, E. (2006). Distribution of runup heights of the December 26, 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Geophysical Research Letters, 33, L13601. Scholar
  6. Fritz, H. M., Kongko, W., Moore, A., McAdoo, B., Goff, J., Harbitz, C., et al. (2007). Extreme runup from the 17 July 2006 Java tsunami. Geophysical Research Letters, 34, L12602. Scholar
  7. Gokon, H., Koshimura, S., Matsuoka, M., & Namegaya, Y. (2011). Developing tsunami fragility curves due to the 2009 tsunami disaster in American Samoa. Journal of Japan Society of Civil Engineers, 67(2), I_13121–I_13125.Google Scholar
  8. Gusman, A.R., et al. (2019). Source model for the tsunami inside Palu Bay following the 2018 Palu earthquake, Indonesia (submitted).Google Scholar
  9. Gusman, A. R., Satake, K., & Harada, T. (2017). Rupture process of the 2016 Wharton Basin strike-slip faulting earthquake estimated from joint inversion of teleseismic and tsunami waveforms. Geophysical Research Letters, 44(9), 4082–4089.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Heidarzadeh, M., Muhari, A., & Wijanarto, A. B. (2019). Insights on the source of the 28 September 2018 Sulawesi tsunami, Indonesia based on spectral analyses and numerical simulations. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 176, 25–43. Scholar
  11. Jaffe, B. E., Borrero, J. C., Prasetya, G. S., Peters, R., McAdoo, B., Gelfenbaum, G., et al. (2006). Northwest Sumatra and offshore islands field survey after the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Earthquake Spectra, 22(S3), 105–135. Scholar
  12. Koshimura, S., Oie, T., Yanagisawa, H., Imamura, F. (2018). Developing fragility functions for tsunami damage estimation using numerical model and post-tsunami data from Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Coastal Engineering Journal, 51(3), 243–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lavigne, F., Paris, R., Grancher, D., Wassmer, P., Brunstein, D., Vautier, F., et al. (2009). Reconstruction of Tsunami Inland Propagation on December 26, 2004 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, through Field Investigations. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 166(1–2), 259–281. Scholar
  14. Lay, T., Ye, L., Bai, Y., Cheung, K. F., & Kanamori, H. (2018). The 2018 Mw 7.9 Gulf of Alaska earthquake: multiple fault rupture in the Pacific Plate. Geophysical Research Letters, 45(18), 9542–9551. Scholar
  15. Lin, S. L., King, A., Horspool, N., Sadashiva, V., Paulik, R., & Williams, S. (2019). Field data collection framework development and applications. Frontiers in Built Environment. Scholar
  16. Mas, E., Koshimura, S., Suppasri, A., Matsuoka, M., Matsuyama, M., Yoshii, T., et al. (2012). Developing tsunami fragility curves using remote sensing and survey data of the 2010 Chilean Tsunami in Dichato. Natural Hazards and Earth System Science, 12, 2689–2697. Scholar
  17. Moore, A., Goff, J., McAdoo, B. G., Fritz, H. M., Gusman, A., Kalligeris, N., Kalsum, K., Susanto, A., Suteja, D., Synolakis, C. E. (2011). Sedimentary deposits from the 17 July 2006 western java tsunami, Indonesia: Use of grain size analyses to assess tsunami flow depth, speed, and traction carpet characteristics. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 168(11), 1951–1961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Muhari, A., Imamura, F., Arikawa, T., Hakim, A., & Afriyanto, B. (2018). Solving the puzzle of the September 2018 Palu, Indonesia, tsunami mystery: clues from the tsunami waveform and the initial field survey data. Journal of Disaster Research. Scholar
  19. National Standardization Agency of Indonesia. (2013). Requirements for Structural Concrete for Buildings. SNI, 2847, 2013.Google Scholar
  20. Omira, R., Dogan, G. G., Hidayat, R., Husrin, S., Prasetya, G., Annunziato, A., et al. (2019). The September 28th, 2018, Tsunami In Palu-Sulawesi, Indonesia: A post-event field survey. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 176, 1379–1395. Scholar
  21. Peiris, N. (2006). Vulnerability Functions for Tsunami Loss Estimation, First European Conference on Earthquake Engineering and Seismology, Geneva (3–8 September 2006, Paper No. 1121).Google Scholar
  22. Prasetya, G. S., De Lange, W. P., & Healy, T. R. (2001). The Makassar Strait tsunamigenic region. Indonesia. Natural Hazards, 24(3), 295–307. Scholar
  23. Putra, P. S., Aswan, A., Maryunani, K. A., Yulianto, E., & Kongko, W. (2019). Field survey of the 2018 Sulawesi tsunami deposits. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 5, 6. Scholar
  24. Reese, S., Cousins, W. J., Power, W. L., Palmer, N. G., Tejakusuma, I. G., Nugrahadi, S. (2007). Tsunami vulnerability of buildings and people in South Java – field observations after the July 2006 Java tsunami. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 7(5), 573–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Saatcioglu, M., Ghobarah, A., & Nistor, I. (2006). Performance of Structures in Indonesia during the December 2004 Great Sumatra earthquake and Indian Ocean tsunami. Earthquake Spectra, 22(S3), S295–S319. Scholar
  26. Satake, K., Nishimura, Y., Putra, P. S., Gusman, A. R., Sunendar, H., Fujii, Y., et al. (2013). Tsunami source of the 2010 Mentawai, Indonesia earthquake Inferred from tsunami field survey and waveform modeling. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 170(9–10), 1567–1582. Scholar
  27. Soetardjo, M., Untung, E. P., Arnold, R., Soetadi, S. I., Kertapati, E. K. (1985). A catalogue of destructive earthquakes in Indonesia for the period 1821–1984. In: E. P. Arnold (Ed.), Southeast Asia Association in Seismology and Earthquake Engineering, SEASEE Series on Seismology, Vol. V —Indonesia, Part A. Southeast Asia Association of Seismology and Earthquake Engineering and U.S. Geological Survey.Google Scholar
  28. Soloviev, S. L., & Go, Ch N. (1974). Catalogue of Tsunamis on the Western Shore of the Pacific Ocean. Moscow: Nauka. (in Russian; English Translation: Canadian Transl. Fish. Aquatic Sci., No. 5078, Ottawa, 1984, 439 pp).Google Scholar
  29. Suppasri, A., Muhari, A., Syamsidik, S., Yunus, R., Pakoksung, K., Imamura, F., et al. (2018). Vulnerability characteristics of tsunamis in Indonesia: Analysis of the global centre for disaster statistics disaster database. Journal of Disaster Research, 13(6), 1039–1048. Scholar
  30. Synolakis, C., Imamura, F., Tsuji, Y., Matsutomi, H., Tinti, S., Cook, B., et al. (1995). Damage, conditions of East Java tsunami of 1994 analyzed. Eos Transactions AGU, 76(26), 157. Scholar
  31. Tarbotton, C., Dall’Osso, F., Dominey-Howes, D., & Goff, J. (2015). The use of empirical vulnerability functions to assess the response of buildings to tsunami impact: comparative review and summary of best practice. Earth Science Reviews, 142, 120–134. Scholar
  32. UNESCO. (2014). International Tsunami Survey Team (ITST) Post-Tsunami Survey Field guide. IOC Manuals and Guides No. 37 (2nd ed.). Paris: UNESCO. (English).Google Scholar
  33. Watkinson, I. M., & Hall, R. (2016). Fault systems of the eastern Indonesian triple junction: evaluation of quaternary activity and implications for seismic hazards. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 441(1), 71–120. Scholar
  34. Williams, J. H., Wilson, T. M., Horspool, N., et al. (2019). Tsunami impact assessment: development of vulnerability matrix for critical infrastructure and application to Christchurch, New Zealand. Natural Hazards. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryan Paulik
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aditya Gusman
    • 2
  • James H. Williams
    • 3
  • Gumbert Maylda Pratama
    • 4
  • Sheng-lin Lin
    • 2
  • Alamsyah Prawirabhakti
    • 5
  • Ketut Sulendra
    • 5
  • Muhammad Yasser Zachari
    • 5
  • Zabin Ellyni Dwi Fortuna
    • 5
  • Novita Barrang Pare Layuk
    • 5
  • Ni Wayan Ika Suwarni
    • 5
  1. 1.National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)WellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.GNS ScienceWellingtonNew Zealand
  3. 3.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  4. 4.Universitas Gadjah MadaYogyakartaIndonesia
  5. 5.Universitas TadulakoPaluIndonesia

Personalised recommendations