National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1991

The 1987–88 Alaskan Bight Tsunamis: Deep ocean data and model comparisons

González, F.I., C.L. Mader, M.C. Eble, and E.N. Bernard

Nat. Hazards, 4(2–3), 119–139, doi: 10.1007/BF00162783, Special Issue on Tsunami Hazard, E.N. Bernard (ed.) (1991)

Excellent deep ocean records have been obtained of two tsunamis recently generated in the Alaskan Bight on 30 November 1987 and 6 March 1988, providing the best available data set to date for comparison with tsunami generation/propagation models. Simulations have been performed with SWAN, a nonlinear shallow water numerical model, using source terms estimated by a seafloor deformation model based on the rectangular fault plane formalism. The tsunami waveform obtained from the model is quite sensitive to the specific source assumed. Significant differences were found between the computations and observations of the 30 November 1987 tsunami, suggesting inadequate knowledge of the source characteristics. Fair agreement was found between the data and the model for the first few waves of the 6 March 1988 tsunami. Model estimates of the seismic moment and total slip along the fault plane are also in fair agreement with those derived from the published Harvard centroid solution for the 6 March 1988 event, implying that the computed seafloor deformation does bear some similarity to the actual source.

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