National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1994

Tsunami Inundation Modeling Workshop Report (November 16–18, 1993)

Bernard, E.N., and F.I. González

NOAA Tech. Memo. ERL PMEL-100, NTIS: PB94-143377, 139 pp (1994)

The discussions during the Tsunami Inundation Modeling Workshop led to the conclusion that the modeling technology exists to produce tsunami inundation maps for emergency preparedness. With this foundation, the members of the Workshop agreed to the following recommendations:

1. A NOAA tsunami mapping/research unit should be established as soon as possible and should be guided by a state users steering group.
2. Tsunami inundation maps and other products of the NOAA mapping/research unit should be used expressly for disaster preparedness and response (i.e., to develop evacuation plans).
3. Products of the NOAA mapping/research unit should include
a. Inundation maps for distantly and locally generated tsunamis (e.g., for U.S. west coast, likely distant scenario would be an Alaskan earthquake, whereas the local scenario would be a tsunami generated along the Cascadia Subduction Zone). Such maps would (1) be based on design earthquakes, developed by consensus among experts; (2) include the maximum extent of flooding that could be expected; (3) use historical data, where possible, including inundation measurements and tide gauge data; (4) be at a scale of 1:24,000 (USGS 7.5-min quadrangle maps) or larger; and (5) be archived in a digital/GIS format.
b. Other important tsunami effects, including maximum currents, maximum drawdown (representing the trough of the tsunami wave), and model animation (video simulation of tsunami runup and inundation).
4. Systematic production of tsunami inundation maps should include the following steps:
Step 1: site identification/priorities
Step 2: map scale identification
Step 3: collection of existing and additional bathymetry and topography of site
Step 4: development of earthquake scenarios for local and distant tsunamis
Step 5: formulation and examination of relevant historical tsunami case studies
Step 6: selection and application of a tsunami inundation model, using steps 4 and 5 to guide specification of input
Step 7: evaluation of accuracy and utility of maps and other products through monitoring future tsunamis
Step 8: periodic review, updating maps, and improvement of the other products

In order to produce these products, the following technical recommendations should be implemented:

  • Conduct a stringent comparative study of existing two-dimensional inundation models.
  • Choose and appropriately instrument a site to collect data for testing and improving inundation models.
  • Define and develop the bathymetric/topographic data base essential to the productive use of inundation models.
  • Construct and validate current velocity maps for use in harbors and inundation zones.

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