Earthquake Report: Banda Sea

Early morning (my time) there was an intermediate depth earthquake in the Banda Sea.

This earthquake was a strike-slip earthquake in the Australia plate. There are analogical earthquakes in the same area in 1963, 1987, 2005, and 2012 that appear to have occurred on the same fault.

In June 2019 there was an earthquake nearby with a similar mechanism.

I will fill in more details tomorrow, but below is some material about the tectonic background for this event.

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake

  • I plot the seismicity from the past 3 months, with diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I include earthquake epicenters from 1920-2020 with magnitudes M ≥ 6.5.
  • I plot the USGS fault plane solutions (moment tensors in blue and focal mechanisms in orange), possibly in addition to some relevant historic earthquakes.
  • A review of the basic base map variations and data that I use for the interpretive posters can be found on the Earthquake Reports page.
  • Some basic fundamentals of earthquake geology and plate tectonics can be found on the Earthquake Plate Tectonic Fundamentals page.

    Global Strain

  • In a map below, I include a transparent overlay of the Global Strain Rate Map (Kreemer et al., 2014).
  • The mission of the Global Strain Rate Map (GSRM) project is to determine a globally self-consistent strain rate and velocity field model, consistent with geodetic and geologic field observations. The overall mission also includes:
    1. contributions of global, regional, and local models by individual researchers
    2. archive existing data sets of geologic, geodetic, and seismic information that can contribute toward a greater understanding of strain phenomena
    3. archive existing methods for modeling strain rates and strain transients
  • The completed global strain rate map will provide a large amount of information that is vital for our understanding of continental dynamics and for the quantification of seismic hazards.
  • The version used in the poster(s) below is an update to the original 2004 map (Kreemer et al., 2000, 2003; Holt et al., 2005).

    I include some inset figures. Some of the same figures are located in different places on the larger scale map below.

  • In the upper right corner is a map showing historic seismicity, fault lines, and the global strain rate map (red shows area of higher tectonic strain).
  • In the lower right corner is a low angle oblique view of the tectonic plate configuration (Pownall et al., 2014).
  • In the upper left corner are maps that show the seismic hazard and seismic risk for Indonesia. I spend more time explaining this below.
  • In the center top-left is a map that shows earthquake intensity using the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) Scale.
  • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted.

  • Here is the poster from the nearby earthquake in June of 2019.

Other Report Pages

Some Relevant Discussion and Figures

  • Here is a tectonic map for this part of the world from Zahirovic et al., 2014. They show a fracture zone where the M 7.3 earthquake happened. I left out all the acronym definitions (you’re welcome), but they are listed in the paper.

  • Regional tectonic setting with plate boundaries (MORs/transforms = black, subduction zones = teethed red) from Bird (2003) and ophiolite belts representing sutures modified from Hutchison (1975) and Baldwin et al. (2012). West Sulawesi basalts are from Polvé et al. (1997), fracture zones are from Matthews et al. (2011) and basin outlines are from Hearn et al. (2003).

  • This is a great visualization showing the Australia plate and how it formed the largest forearc basin on Earth (Pownall et al., 2014).
  • The maps on the left show a time history of the tectonics. The low angle oblique view on the right shows the dipping crust (north is not always up, as in this figure).
  • In the lower right, they show how there is strike-slip faulting along the Seram trough also (I left out the figure caption for E).

  • Reconstructions of eastern Indonesia, adapted from Hall (2012), depict collision of Australia with Southeast Asia and slab rollback into Banda Embayment. Yellow star indicates Seram. Oceanic crust is shown in purple (older than 120 Ma) and blue (younger than 120 Ma); submarine arcs and oceanic plateaus are shown in cyan; volcanic island arcs, ophiolites, and material accreted along plate margins are shown in green. A: Reconstruction at 15 Ma. B: Reconstruction at 7 Ma. C: Reconstruction at 2 Ma. D: Visualization of present-day slab morphology of proto–Banda Sea based on earthquake hypocenter distribution and tomographic models

  • Here is a map and some cross sections showing seismic tomography (like C-T scans into the Earth using seismic waves instead of X-Rays). The map shows the location of the cross sections (Spakman et al., 2010).

  • The Banda arc and surrounding region. 200 m and 4,000 m bathymetric contours are indicated. The numbered black lines are Benioff zone contours in kilometres. The red triangles are Holocene volcanoes ( Ar=Aru, Ar Tr=Aru trough, Ba=Banggai Islands, Bu=Buru, SBS=South Banda Sea, Se=Seram, Sm=Sumba, Su=Sula Islands, Ta=Tanimbar, Ta Tr=Tanimbar trough, Ti=Timor, W=Weber Deep.

    Tomographic images of the Banda slab. Vertical sections through the tomography model along the lines shown in Fig. 1. Colours: P-wave anomalies with reference to velocity model ak135 (ref. 30). Dots: earthquake hypocentres within 12 km of the section. The dashed lines are phase changes at ~410 km and ~660 km. The sections are plotted without vertical exaggeration; the horizontal axis is in degrees. The labelled positive anomalies are the Sunda (Su) and Banda (Ba) slabs: BuDdetached slab under Buru, FlDslab under Flores, SDslab under Seram, TDslab under Timor. a, The Sunda slab enters the lower mantle whereas the Banda embayment slab is entirely in the upper mantle with the change under Sulawesi. b–e, Banda slab morphology in sections parallel to Australia plate motion shows a transition from a steep slab with a flat section (fs) (b) to a spoon shape shallowing eastward (c–e).

  • Here is the tectonic map from Hengesh and Whitney (2016)

  • Illustration of major tectonic elements in triple junction geometry: tectonic features labeled per Figure 1; seismicity from ISC-GEM catalog [Storchak et al., 2013]; faults in Savu basin from Rigg and Hall [2011] and Harris et al. [2009]. Purple line is edge of Australian continental basement and fore arc [Rigg and Hall, 2011]. Abbreviations: AR = Ashmore Reef; SR = Scott Reef; RS = Rowley Shoals; TCZ = Timor Collision Zone; ST = Savu thrust; SB = Savu Basin; TT = Timor thrust; WT =Wetar thrust; WASZ = Western Australia Shear Zone. Open arrows indicate relative direction of motion; solid arrows direction of vergence.

  • Here is the Audley (2011) cross section showing how the backthrust relates to the subduction zone beneath Timor. I include their figure caption in blockquote below.

  • Cartoon cross section of Timor today, (cf. Richardson & Blundell 1996, their BIRPS figs 3b, 4b & 7; and their fig. 6 gravity model 2 after Woodside et al. 1989; and Snyder et al. 1996 their fig. 6a). Dimensions of the filled 40 km deep present-day Timor Tectonic Collision Zone are based on BIRPS seismic, earthquake seismicity and gravity data all re-interpreted here from Richardson & Blundell (1996) and from Snyder et al. (1996). NB. The Bobonaro Melange, its broken formation and other facies are not indicated, but they are included with the Gondwana mega-sequence. Note defunct Banda Trench, now the Timor TCZ, filled with Australian continental crust and Asian nappes that occupy all space between Wetar Suture and the 2–3 km deep deformation front north of the axis of the Timor Trough. Note the much younger decollement D5 used exactly the same part of the Jurassic lithology of the Gondwana mega-sequence in the older D1 decollement that produced what appears to be much stronger deformation.

  • Here is a figure showing the regional geodetic motions (Bock et al., 2003). I include their figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Topographic and tectonic map of the Indonesian archipelago and surrounding region. Labeled, shaded arrows show motion (NUVEL-1A model) of the first-named tectonic plate relative to the second. Solid arrows are velocity vectors derived from GPS surveys from 1991 through 2001, in ITRF2000. For clarity, only a few of the vectors for Sumatra are included. The detailed velocity field for Sumatra is shown in Figure 5. Velocity vector ellipses indicate 2-D 95% confidence levels based on the formal (white noise only) uncertainty estimates. NGT, New Guinea Trench; NST, North Sulawesi Trench; SF, Sumatran Fault; TAF, Tarera-Aiduna Fault. Bathymetry [Smith and Sandwell, 1997] in this and all subsequent figures contoured at 2 km intervals.

  • Whitney and Hengesh (2015) used GPS modeling to suggest a model of plate blocks. Below are their model results.

  • Plate boundary segments in the Banda Arc region from Nugroho et al (2009). Numbers inside rectangles show possible micro-plate blocks near the Sumba Triple Junction (colored) based on GPS velocities (black arrows) with in a stable Eurasian reference frame.

  • Here is the conceptual model from Whitney and Hengesh (2015) that shows how left-lateral strike-slip faulting can come into the region.

  • Schematic map views of kinematic relations between major crustal elements in the Sumba Triple Junction region. CTZ= collisional tectonic zone. Red arrow size designates schematic plate motion relations based on geological data relative to a fixed Sunda shelf reference frame (pin).

Seismic Hazard and Seismic Risk

  • These are the two maps shown in the map above, the GEM Seismic Hazard and the GEM Seismic Risk maps from Pagani et al. (2018) and Silva et al. (2018).
    • The GEM Seismic Hazard Map:

    • The Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Global Seismic Hazard Map (version 2018.1) depicts the geographic distribution of the Peak Ground Acceleration (PGA) with a 10% probability of being exceeded in 50 years, computed for reference rock conditions (shear wave velocity, VS30, of 760-800 m/s). The map was created by collating maps computed using national and regional probabilistic seismic hazard models developed by various institutions and projects, and by GEM Foundation scientists. The OpenQuake engine, an open-source seismic hazard and risk calculation software developed principally by the GEM Foundation, was used to calculate the hazard values. A smoothing methodology was applied to homogenise hazard values along the model borders. The map is based on a database of hazard models described using the OpenQuake engine data format (NRML). Due to possible model limitations, regions portrayed with low hazard may still experience potentially damaging earthquakes.
    • Here is a view of the GEM seismic hazard map for Indonesia.

    • The GEM Seismic Risk Map:

    • The Global Seismic Risk Map (v2018.1) presents the geographic distribution of average annual loss (USD) normalised by the average construction costs of the respective country (USD/m2) due to ground shaking in the residential, commercial and industrial building stock, considering contents, structural and non-structural components. The normalised metric allows a direct comparison of the risk between countries with widely different construction costs. It does not consider the effects of tsunamis, liquefaction, landslides, and fires following earthquakes. The loss estimates are from direct physical damage to buildings due to shaking, and thus damage to infrastructure or indirect losses due to business interruption are not included. The average annual losses are presented on a hexagonal grid, with a spacing of 0.30 x 0.34 decimal degrees (approximately 1,000 km2 at the equator). The average annual losses were computed using the event-based calculator of the OpenQuake engine, an open-source software for seismic hazard and risk analysis developed by the GEM Foundation. The seismic hazard, exposure and vulnerability models employed in these calculations were provided by national institutions, or developed within the scope of regional programs or bilateral collaborations.
  • Here is a view of the GEM seismic risk map for Indonesia.

    Social Media


    Basic & General References

  • Frisch, W., Meschede, M., Blakey, R., 2011. Plate Tectonics, Springer-Verlag, London, 213 pp.
  • Hayes, G., 2018, Slab2 – A Comprehensive Subduction Zone Geometry Model: U.S. Geological Survey data release,
  • Holt, W. E., C. Kreemer, A. J. Haines, L. Estey, C. Meertens, G. Blewitt, and D. Lavallee (2005), Project helps constrain continental dynamics and seismic hazards, Eos Trans. AGU, 86(41), 383–387, , /li>
  • Jessee, M.A.N., Hamburger, M. W., Allstadt, K., Wald, D. J., Robeson, S. M., Tanyas, H., et al. (2018). A global empirical model for near-real-time assessment of seismically induced landslides. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 123, 1835–1859.
  • Kreemer, C., J. Haines, W. Holt, G. Blewitt, and D. Lavallee (2000), On the determination of a global strain rate model, Geophys. J. Int., 52(10), 765–770.
  • Kreemer, C., W. E. Holt, and A. J. Haines (2003), An integrated global model of present-day plate motions and plate boundary deformation, Geophys. J. Int., 154(1), 8–34, ,
  • Kreemer, C., G. Blewitt, E.C. Klein, 2014. A geodetic plate motion and Global Strain Rate Model in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, v. 15, p. 3849-3889,
  • Meyer, B., Saltus, R., Chulliat, a., 2017. EMAG2: Earth Magnetic Anomaly Grid (2-arc-minute resolution) Version 3. National Centers for Environmental Information, NOAA. Model.
  • Müller, R.D., Sdrolias, M., Gaina, C. and Roest, W.R., 2008, Age spreading rates and spreading asymmetry of the world’s ocean crust in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 9, Q04006,
  • Pagani,M. , J. Garcia-Pelaez, R. Gee, K. Johnson, V. Poggi, R. Styron, G. Weatherill, M. Simionato, D. Viganò, L. Danciu, D. Monelli (2018). Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Seismic Hazard Map (version 2018.1 – December 2018), DOI: 10.13117/GEM-GLOBAL-SEISMIC-HAZARD-MAP-2018.1
  • Silva, V ., D Amo-Oduro, A Calderon, J Dabbeek, V Despotaki, L Martins, A Rao, M Simionato, D Viganò, C Yepes, A Acevedo, N Horspool, H Crowley, K Jaiswal, M Journeay, M Pittore, 2018. Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Seismic Risk Map (version 2018.1).
  • Zhu, J., Baise, L. G., Thompson, E. M., 2017, An Updated Geospatial Liquefaction Model for Global Application, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 107, p 1365-1385,
  • Specific References

  • Audley-Charles, M.G., 1986. Rates of Neogene and Quaternary tectonic movements in the Southern Banda Arc based on micropalaeontology in: Journal of fhe Geological Society, London, Vol. 143, 1986, pp. 161-175.
  • Audley-Charles, M.G., 2011. Tectonic post-collision processes in Timor, Hall, R., Cottam, M. A. &Wilson, M. E. J. (eds) The SE Asian Gateway: History and Tectonics of the Australia–Asia Collision. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 355, 241–266.
  • Baldwin, S.L., Fitzgerald, P.G., and Webb, L.E., 2012. Tectonics of the New Guinea Region in Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci., v. 41, p. 485-520.
  • Benz, H.M., Herman, Matthew, Tarr, A.C., Hayes, G.P., Furlong, K.P., Villaseñor, Antonio, Dart, R.L., and Rhea, Susan, 2011. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2010 New Guinea and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-H, scale 1:8,000,000.
  • Given, J. W., and H. Kanamori (1980). The depth extent of the 1977 Sumbawa, Indonesia, earthquake, in EOS Trans. AGU., v. 61, p. 1044.
  • Gusnman, A.R., Tanioka, Y., Matsumoto, H., and Iwasakai, S.-I., 2009. Analysis of the Tsunami Generated by the Great 1977 Sumba Earthquake that Occurred in Indonesia in BSSA, v. 99, no. 4, p. 2169-2179,
  • Hall, R., 2011. Australia-SE Asia collision: plate tectonics and crustal flow in Geological Society, London, Special Publications 2011; v. 355; p. 75-109 doi: 10.1144/SP355.5
  • Hangesh, J. and Whitney, B., 2014. Quaternary Reactivation of Australia’s Western Passive Margin: Inception of a New Plate Boundary? in: 5th International INQUA Meeting on Paleoseismology, Active Tectonics and Archeoseismology (PATA), 21-27 September 2014, Busan, Korea, 4 pp.
  • Okal, E. A., & Reymond, D., 2003. The mechanism of great Banda Sea earthquake of 1 February 1938: applying the method of preliminary determination of focal mechanism to a historical event in EPSL, v. 216, p. 1-15.
  • Osada, M. and Abe, K., 1981. Mechanism and tectonic implications of the great Banda Sea earthquake of November 4, 1963 in Physics of the Earth and Plentary Interiors, v. 25, p. 129-139
  • Pownall, J.M., Hall, R., Armstrong,, R.A., and Forster, M.A., 2014. Earth’s youngest known ultrahigh-temperature granulites discovered on Seram, eastern Indonesia in Geology, v. 42, no. 4, p. 379-282,
  • Spakman, W. and Hall, R., 2010. Surface deformation and slab–mantle interaction during Banda arc subduction rollback in Nature Geosceince, v. 3, p. 562-566,
  • Whitney, B.B. and Hengesh, J.V., 2015. A new model for active intraplate tectonics in western Australia in Proceedings of the Tenth Pacific Conference on Earthquake Engineering Building an Earthquake-Resilient Pacific 6-8 November 2015, Sydney, Australia, paper number 82
  • Zahirovic, S., Seton, M., and Müller, R.D., 2014. The Cretaceous and Cenozoic tectonic evolution of Southeast Asia in Solid Earth, v. 5, p. 227-273, doi:10.5194/se-5-227-2014

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Category(s): earthquake, education, geology, Indonesia, plate tectonics, strike-slip

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