Scenario-based numerical modelling and the palaeo-historic record of tsunamis in Wallis and Futuna, Southwest Pacific
We investigated the tsunami hazard in the remote French territory of Wallis and Futuna, Southwest Pacific, using the Gerris flow solver to produce numerical models of tsunami generation, propagation and inundation. Wallis consists of the inhabited volcanic island of Uvéa that is surrounded by a lagoon delimited by a barrier reef. Futuna and the island of Alofi form the Horn Archipelago located ca. 240 km east of Wallis. They are surrounded by a narrow fringing reef. Futuna and Alofi emerge from the North Fiji Transform Fault that marks the seismically active Pacific-Australia plate boundary. We generated 15 tsunami scenarios. For each, we calculated maximum wave elevation (MWE), inundation distance and expected time of arrival (ETA). The tsunami sources were local, regional and distant earthquake faults located along the Pacific Rim. In Wallis, the outer reef may experience 6.8 m-high MWE. Uvéa is protected by the barrier reef and the lagoon, but inundation depths of 2–3 m occur in several coastal areas. In Futuna, flow depths exceeding 2 m are modelled in several populated areas, and have been confirmed by a post-September 2009 South Pacific tsunami survey. The channel between the islands of Futuna and Alofi amplified the 2009 tsunami, which resulted in inundation distance of almost 100 m and MWE of 4.4 m. This first ever tsunami hazard modelling study of Wallis and Futuna compares well with palaeotsunamis recognised on both islands and observation of the impact of the 2009 South Pacific tsunami. The study provides evidence for the mitigating effect of barrier and fringing reefs from tsunamis.