National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2003

Modeling the 1100 bp paleotsunami in Puget Sound, Washington

Koshimura, S., H.O. Mofjeld, F.I. González, and A.L. Moore

Geophys. Res. Lett., 29(20), 1948, doi: 10.1029/2002GL015170 (2002)

Recent paleoseismic and geologic studies indicate that a tsunami occurred 1100 years ago in Puget Sound. This study aims to reproduce and validate the model tsunami, using a finite difference model based on nonlinear shallow water theory and abathymetry/topography computational grid that takes into account the 1-meter rise in sea level that has occurred in the region during the past 1100 years. Estimates of tsunami height, the extent of inundation, and the current velocity pattern are provided at the northern head of Cultus Bay, Whidbey Island, where paleotsunami sand deposits have been found. The model demonstrates that a tsunami generated when the background water level was at mean high water or above could have surged across the then-existing coastal marsh, penetrated the full length of the shallow bay, and deposited the observed sand layers.

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