National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2011

Obtaining natural oscillatory modes of bays and harbors via Empirical Orthogonal Function analysis of tsunami wave fields

Tolkova, E., and W. Power

Ocean Dynam., 61(6), 731–751, doi: 10.1007/s10236-011-0388-5 (2011)

To a tsunami wave, bays and harbors represent oscillatory systems, whose resonance (normal) modes determine the response to tsunami and consequently the potential hazard. The direct way to obtain the resonance modes of a water reservoir is by solving the boundary problem for the eigenfunctions of the linearized shallow-water wave equation. The principal difficulty of posing such a problem for a basin coupled to an ocean is specifying the boundary between the two. The technique developed in this work allows the normal modes of a semi-enclosed water body to be obtained without a-priori restricting the resonator area. The technique utilizes complex Empirical Orthogonal Function analysis of modeled tsunami wave fields. On the examples of Poverty Bay in New Zealand and Monterey Bay in California (United States), we demonstrate that the normal modes can be identified and isolated using the EOFs of a data set comprised of the concatenated time-series collected from different tsunami scenarios in a basin. The analysis of the modeled tsunami wave fields for the normal modes can also answer the question of how likely and under which conditions the different modes are exited, due to feasible natural events.

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