Field observations and sediment samples at a coastal-plain setting in southeastern Sri Lanka were used to document the erosional and depositional impacts of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and to interpret the hydrodynamic processes that produced an extensive sand-sheet deposit. Tsunami deposit thicknesses ranged from 6 to 22??cm with thickness being controlled partly by antecedent topography. The deposit was composed of coarse to medium sand organized into plane-parallel laminae and a few laminasets. Vertical textural trends showed an overall but non-systematic upward fining and upward thinning of depositional units with an upward increase in heavy-mineral laminations at some locations. Repeated patterns in the vertical textural trends (upward fining, upward coarsening, uniform) were used to subdivide and correlate the deposit into five hydro-textural stratigraphic units. The depositional units were linked to hydrodynamic processes and upcurrent conditions, such as rates of sediment supply and composition of the sediment sources. Vertical changes in grain-size distributions recorded the depositional phases associated with flow acceleration, initial unsteady pulsating flow, relatively stable and uniform flow, flow deceleration, slack water, and return flow or flow redirection. Study results suggest that vertical textural trends from multiple cross-shore sections can be used to interpret complex tsunami flow histories, but at the location examined, interpretation of the lateral textural trends did not provide a basis for identifying the correct sediment transport pathways because flow near the landward boundary was multidirectional.
Additional publication details
Hydrodynamic implications of textural trends in sand deposits of the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka