National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2017

Tsunami Hazard Assessment: Best Modeling Practices and State-of-the-Art Technology

Lynett, P., Y. Wei, and D. Arcas

NUREG/CR-7223, Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC, Published online (2016)

The present work reviews relevant tsunami dynamics and some of the different mathematical models used to describe the physical processes of tsunami propagation in deep and shallow water and inundation onto dry land. This report presents a general methodology that recognizes some of the unique challenges in conducting tsunami hazard assessment for the site of a Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). These challenges relate to the fact that both the peak and minimum values of metrics computed in tsunami hazard assessments can negatively affect NPPs. For instance, the maximum estimated damage of tsunami impact for most manmade structures is generally based on peak values of specific metrics such as wave elevation, flow depth, current speed, and flow specific momentum. Particularly for a NPP, minimum values of these metrics, such as minimum wave elevation, negative (away from the shore) current speed and draw-down are equally dangerous. Conservative tsunami modeling should reflect these peculiarities and utilize parameter settings that will maximize or minimize a particular metric in order to investigate its effect on the NPP. This report makes recommendations regarding best modeling practices for tsunami impact on NPPs, and presents considerations on the most appropriate mathematical models for specific situations. Finally, the present work discusses a strategy to facilitate the identification of a Probable Maximum Tsunami (PMT) using tsunami forecast modeling tools currently in operation at the NOAA Tsunami Warning Centers and suggests a methodology for probabilistic tsunami hazard assessment.

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