National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2011

Extraction of tsunami source coefficients via inversion of DART® buoy data

Percival, D.B., D.W. Denbo, M.C. Eble, E. Gica, H.O. Mofjeld, M.C. Spillane, L. Tang, and V.V. Titov

Nat. Hazards, 58(1), 567–590, doi: 10.1007/s11069-010-9688-1 (2011)

The ability to accurately forecast potential hazards posed to coastal communities by tsunamis generated seismically in both the near and far field requires knowledge of so-called source coefficients, from which the strength of a tsunami can be deduced. Seismic information alone can be used to set the source coefficients, but the values so derived reflect the dynamics of movement at or below the seabed and hence might not accurately describe how this motion is manifested in the overlaying water column. We describe here a method for refining source coefficient estimates based on seismic information by making use of data from Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART®) buoys (tsunameters). The method involves using these data to adjust precomputed models via an inversion algorithm so that residuals between the adjusted models and the DART® data are as small as possible in a least squares sense. The inversion algorithm is statistically based and hence has the ability to assess uncertainty in the estimated source coefficients. We describe this inversion algorithm in detail and apply it to the November 2006 Kuril Islands event as a case study.

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