National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2007

A method for estimating casualties due to the tsunami inundation flow

Koshimura, S., T. Katada, H.O. Mofjeld, and Y. Kawata

Nat. Hazards, 39(2), 265–274, doi: 10.1007/s11069-006-0027-5 (2006)

This study develops a method for estimating the number of casualties that may occur while people evacuate from an inundation zone when a tsunami has inundated an area. The method is based on a simple model of hydrodynamic forces as they affect the human body. The method uses a Tsunami casualty index (TCI) computed at each grid point of a numerical tsunami model to determine locations and times within the tsunami inundation zone where evacuation during the tsunami inundation is not possible and therefore where casualties are likely to occur. The locations and times can be combined with information about population density to compute the potential number of casualties. This information is useful in developing tsunami evacuation routes that avoid such locations. To illustrate the method, it is applied to the Seattle waterfront in Washington State, USA, that is under the threat of possible tsunami disasters due to Seattle Fault earthquakes. Preliminary results suggest that the tsunami casualties may occur within the Seattle waterfront for 15 min, during the time interval from 3 to 18 min after a large Seattle Fault tsunami is generated when the background tide level is mean high water.

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