ABSTRACT

The Juan Fernandez Islands (JFI) are located in the Pacific Ocean 675 km west of the Chilean coast. This archipelago has historically been affected by large tsunamis. Robinson Crusoe Island (RCI), the main island of the JFI, was first inhabited in 1749. Since then, several tsunamis have destroyed RCI port structures and sometimes caused deaths. Ground shaking perceived by the inhabitants has preceded some tsunami arrivals. Seismological instrumentation was temporarily deployed on RCI in 1999, and a permanent station has been operating since 2014. Here, we use these data to characterize the seismic waves that arrive at the JFI and to determine whether shaking perception could be used as a tsunami early warning system. We compute peak ground accelerations (PGAs) from P, S, and T waves generated by Peruvian and Chilean earthquakes and find that the largest ground shakings are mostly related to T‐wave arrivals, which correlate with macroseismic modified Mercalli intensities lower than III. From the analysis of PGAs and macroseismic intensities, we conclude that shaking perception can be associated with large megathrust earthquakes, subduction events generated in the deep zone of seismogenic contact, and local seismicity. Unfortunately, potential tsunami earthquakes that occur on the Chilean coast will not be felt on RCI. Consequently, ground shaking in the JFI would not be a good proxy for tsunami warning, and a robust tsunami early warning system is necessary for RCI.

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