National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
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FY 1995

Tsunami Warning System Workshop Report (September 14–15, 1994)

Blackford, M., and H. Kanamori

NOAA Tech. Memo. ERL PMEL-105, NTIS: PB95-187175, 95 pp (1995)


The workshop attendees agreed that it is feasible to issue tsunami warnings within 5 minutes of earthquake origin time using existing instrumentation for earthquakes occurring along U.S. coastal areas. They further acknowledged that the existing tide gauge system is inadequate to detect and monitor a tsunami in excess of 1 meter along the U.S. coastline.

To implement 5-minute warnings, we recommend:

  1. Upgrade the existing west coast seismic net to include real time telemetry of strong motion/broad band seismometers at several additional sites.
  2. Increase the staff at the Alaska and Pacific Tsunami Warning Centers (ATWC and PTWC) to provide 24 hour/day in office operations.
  3. Aggressively improve the automation of the processing of seismic data at the seismic centers and distribute these processed products via emergency communications (including internet).
  4. Implement a plan to coordinate information exchange between ATWC, PTWC, National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC), and the west coast regional seismic networks. This will require additional hardware, software, and personnel for the existing seismic centers.
  5. Add broad band seismometers to ATWC and PTWC, and access to existing broad band stations.

To establish an adequate water level system for tsunami warnings we recommend:

  1. Install network of real-time reporting deep water tsunami gauges.
  2. Modify and utilize the existing network of NOAA tide gauges and Coastal Data Information Program instruments for the monitoring of tsunamis up to 5 m.
  3. Make all water level data available on internet for use by a wide range of users.
  4. Conduct a siting study to determine the optimal configuration of deep, shallow, and coastal instrumentation for tsunami detection and monitoring.
  5. Develop warning procedures that incorporate water level data to forecast tsunami impact.



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