EGU23-17621, updated on 23 Jan 2024
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The Tsunami Warning triggered in the Mediterranean Sea by the 2023 February 6 Mw 7.8 Türkiye-Syria earthquake: from the present Decision Matrix (DM) to Probabilistic Tsunami Forecasting (PTF).

Stefano Lorito1, Jacopo Selva2, Alessandro Amato1, Andrey Babeyko3, Basak Bayraktar1, Fabrizio Bernardi1, Marinos Charalampakis4, Louise Cordrie1, Nikos Kalligeris4, Alessio Piatanesi1, Fabrizio Romano1, Antonio Scala5, Roberto Tonini1, Manuela Volpe1, Musavver Didem Cambaz6, and Doğan Kalafat6
Stefano Lorito et al.
  • 1Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Roma, Italy
  • 2Università degli Studi di Napoli "Federico II", Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, dell'Ambiente e delle Risorse, Napoli, Italy
  • 3GFZ German centre for geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
  • 4Institute of Geodynamics, National Observatory of Athens (NOA), Athens, Greece
  • 5Università degli Studi di Napoli "Federico II", Dipartimento di Fisica "Ettore Pancini", Napoli, Italy
  • 6Boğaziçi University Kandilli Observatory Earthquake Research Institute, Istanbul, Türkiye

The 2023 February 6 Mw 7.8 earthquake was the first one of a doublet which shook Türkiye and Syria causing, as per the estimates at the time of writing of this abstract, more than 45,000 casualties.

The current standard operating procedures of the NEAMTWS (Tsunami Warning System in the North-Eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and connected seas, coordinated by UNESCO/IOC) for the initial tsunami warning message following an earthquake are based on a Decision Matrix (DM), whose input parameters are hypocentre and magnitude of the earthquake. Since the epicentre of this earthquake was located at a depth between 15-35 km at almost 100 km from the coast, both KOERI (Türkiye) and INGV (Italy) Tsunami Service Providers (TSPs) of the NEAMTWS issued a Tsunami Watch message (i.e., runup expected to exceed 1 m) for the whole Mediterranean Sea. NOA (Greece) did not issue any alert, because its initial location was more than 100 km from the coast.

In response to the tsunami warning, trains were stopped in different locations in Southern Italy for several hours, and evacuation of some coastal areas was enforced. However, only a relatively small tsunami was recorded by Turkish close-by tide-gauges in the Eastern Mediterranean, with a maximum recorded amplitude of less than 50 cm. Based on these measurements and on others showing little to no tsunami at increasing distances, the alert was then ended after 5 and 9 hours by INGV and KOERI, respectively, based on the available tide-gauge recordings and interaction with Civil Protection Officers.

This event has highlighted that NEAMTWS is an asset for the coastal communities. It can provide rapid alerts, which can save lives if the last-mile of the procedures is in place and the communities are “Tsunami Ready”, that is aware and prepared to respond with evacuations and other appropriate countermeasures. On the other hand, while it is reasonable – and dutiful based on current standard operation procedures – to issue a basin-wide, or at least a local alert, for an inland earthquake of unknown mechanism and of such a large magnitude, it is perhaps possible to improve the DM, which is totally heuristic and characterized by hard-thresholds, with consideration of numerical tsunami simulations and quantitative uncertainty treatment with more continuous variations. Moreover, there is no procedure currently in place to differentiate among locations where the expected time of arrival differs by many hours across the Mediterranean basin, nor a sufficient instrumental coverage that could make cancellation/ending faster due to a more solid observational basis.

We will discuss some of the scientific and operational aspects with the aim of identifying which lessons can be learned to improve the NEAMTWS efficiency. We will also compare the DM-based alerts with those that would be produced with the recently introduced Probabilistic Tsunami Forecasting (PTF, Selva et al., 2021, Nature Communications), presently in pre-operational testing at INGV.

How to cite: Lorito, S., Selva, J., Amato, A., Babeyko, A., Bayraktar, B., Bernardi, F., Charalampakis, M., Cordrie, L., Kalligeris, N., Piatanesi, A., Romano, F., Scala, A., Tonini, R., Volpe, M., Cambaz, M. D., and Kalafat, D.: The Tsunami Warning triggered in the Mediterranean Sea by the 2023 February 6 Mw 7.8 Türkiye-Syria earthquake: from the present Decision Matrix (DM) to Probabilistic Tsunami Forecasting (PTF)., EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-17621,, 2023.