Tsunami is a constant threat to communities and infrastructure in coastal areas of PNG. Movement of the sea floor caused by a major earthquake is the common cause of tsunami generation. Tsunamis generated by regional and distant sources have also affected various parts of the coast in recent times. Volcanic eruptions and under water landslides have also triggered massive local tsunamis in PNG causing deaths and caused damage to infrastructure.
The potential for earthquake-induced tsunami is promptly assessed by a network of seismic stations strategically-located within PNG, and augmented by regional stations. This is complimented by data from tsunami service providers within the region such as the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC), North-West Pacific Tsunami Advisory Centre (NWPTAC) and the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning System (JATWS).
Tsunami information and alerts
For any significant earthquakes (M ≥ 6), details of the earthquake and the threat of earthquake-induced tsunami is assessed. This information is promptly made known to disaster authorities, Government agencies, news media and the general public via a range of communication channels.
Tsunami warning and response
Information of any potential threat of a tsunami is disseminated by the PNG National Disaster Centre (NDC). NDC is the mandated disaster authority that issues a tsunami warning if required, after consultation with PMGO.
- For regional and distant source tsunami, there is ample time to issue a tsunami warning for orderly evacuation.
- For a local tsunami, the most effective tsunami warning is the natural warning signs. Natural warnings signs includes:
- Severe earthquake shaking
- An unusual drop or rise in the sea level
- Roaring sound (like sound of a jet plane) coming from the sea
If any of these signs are observed, evacuate to high ground or go as far away inland as possible.
Recent tsunamis that affected the coastal areas of PNG
The most recent tsunami events that affected coastal areas of PNG include:
- 11 March 2011 – a distant source tsunami that affected coastal areas of northern mainland PNG
- 01 April 2007 – a regional source tsunami that affected Islands of Milne Bay Province
- 09 September 2002 – local tsunami that affected islands off Wewak, East Sepik Province
- 01 November 2000 – local tsunami that affected southern region of New Ireland Province
- 17 July 1998 – local tsunami that devastated Sissano lagoon near Aitape, Sandaun Province.