There is a little bit of method to the madness of when a tsunami will strike, but not much, according to the longest, cleanest continuous natural record of tsunami activity yet discovered.
"Tsunamis are not evenly spaced through time," says Charles Rubin, the study's lead author and a professor at the Earth Observatory of Singapore, part of Nanyang Technological University. "Our findings present a worrying picture of highly erratic tsunami recurrence. There can be long periods between tsunamis, but you can also get major tsunamis that are separated by just a few decades."
The discovery, reported in the current issue of Nature Communications, logs a number of firsts: the first record of ancient tsunami activity found in a sea cave; the first record for such a long time period in the Indian Ocean; and the most pristine record of tsunamis anywhere in the world.
From here. The paper that is the source for this article is:The discovery was made in a sea cave on the west coast of Sumatra in Indonesia, just south of the city of Banda Aceh, which was devastated by the tsunami of December 2004. The stratigraphic record reveals successive layers of sand, bat droppings and other debris laid down by tsunamis between 7,900 and 2,900 years ago. The stratigraphy since 2,900 years ago was washed away by the 2004 tsunami.. . .The record indicates that 11 tsunamis were generated during that period by earthquakes along the Sunda Megathrust, the 3,300-mile-long fault running from Myanmar to Sumatra in the Indian Ocean. The researchers found there were two tsunami-free millennia during the 5,000 years, and one century in which four tsunamis struck the coast. In general, the scientists report, smaller tsunamis occur relatively close together, followed by long dormant periods, followed by great quakes and tsunamis, such as the one that struck in 2004.
Charles M. Rubin, et al., "Highly variable recurrence of tsunamis in the 7,400 years before the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami." 8 Nature Communications 16019 (2017) DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS16019