Reconstruction of the coastal impact of the 2004 tsunami in Khao Lak, Thailand

Based on the reports of eye-witnesses of the 2004 tsunami from Sweden and Germany, photographic material, video footage satellite imagery and a site survey, we calculated that the sea began retreating at 10:00 (local time) and the main tsunami wave reached Khao Lak at 10:30. We concluded that at least 2 major waves moved onshore in an easterly direction at a velocity of 33 +/- 4 km/hr and that their maximum height was 5 meters over the ground surface. The force on impact of these waves was extreme and eye-witnesses were carried to the line of maximum inundation (0.5–1.5 km onshore). This reconstruction has allowed us to verify a numerical simulation of the tsunami, which is based solely on earthquake parameters and bathymetric data.

Contact information

Alasdair Skelton
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Joanna Mård Karlsson


Mård Karlsson, J., Skelton, A., Sandén M., Ioualalen M., Kaewbanjak, N., Pophet, N., Asavanant, J. and von Matern, A., 2009. Reconstructions of the coastal impact of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in the Khao Lak area, Thailand. Journal of Geophysical Research 114, C10023, doi:10.1029/2009JC005516.

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