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Time-dependent onshore tsunami response

January 1, 2012

While bulk measures of the onshore impact of a tsunami, including the maximum run-up elevation and inundation distance, are important for hazard planning, the temporal evolution of the onshore flow dynamics likely controls the extent of the onshore destruction and the erosion and deposition of sediment that occurs. However, the time-varying dynamics of actual tsunamis are even more difficult to measure in situ than the bulk parameters. Here, a numerical model based on the non-linear shallow water equations is used to examine the effects variations in the wave characteristics, bed slope, and bottom roughness have on the temporal evolution of the onshore flow. Model results indicate that the onshore flow dynamics vary significantly over the parameter space examined. For example, the flow dynamics over steep, smooth morphologies tend to be temporally symmetric, with similar magnitude velocities generated during the run-up and run-down phases of inundation. Conversely, on shallow, rough onshore topographies the flow dynamics tend to be temporally skewed toward the run-down phase of inundation, with the magnitude of the flow velocities during run-up and run-down being significantly different. Furthermore, for near-breaking tsunami waves inundating over steep topography, the flow velocity tends to accelerate almost instantaneously to a maximum and then decrease monotonically. Conversely, when very long waves inundate over shallow topography, the flow accelerates more slowly and can remain steady for a period of time before beginning to decelerate. These results indicate that a single set of assumptions concerning the onshore flow dynamics cannot be applied to all tsunamis, and site specific analyses may be required.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2012
Title Time-dependent onshore tsunami response
DOI 10.1016/j.coastaleng.2012.01.001
Authors Alex Apotsos, Guy R. Gelfenbaum, Bruce E. Jaffe
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Coastal Engineering
Series Number
Index ID 70146239
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center