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A DOEI Workshop on Interactions Between Tsunamis and Underwater Geological Processes

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A scientfic workshop sponsored by the Deep Ocean Exploration Institute and the Coastal Ocean Institute at WHOI

Jian Lin,Geology & Geophysics,
Jason Goodman, Physical Oceanography
Di Jin, Marine Policy Center
Ralph Stephen, Geology & Geophysics


DOEI Project Funded: 2005


Proposed Research

Abstract
Tsunamis are among the most destructive natural hazards. The complex nature of tsunamis was vividly illustrated by the failure of warning the deadly Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean and a false alarm following the March 28, 2005 earthquake in the same region. Tsunami nucleation involves complex interactions of underwater earthquakes, landslides, and volcano eruptions with the overlying oceans. The detailed processes of such interactions are at present poorly understood. To promote progress on interdisciplinary investigation of the role of geology-ocean interaction in creating tsunamis, we propose to host a tsunami workshop at WHOI in the fall of 2006. This workshop has three primary objectives: (1) To review the state-of-the art investigation on tsunami observation, theoretical modeling, and early warning technology; (2) To promote interdisciplinary discussion between researchers in marine geology, physical oceanography, ocean engineering, marine policy and hazard preparation; and (3) To identify promising directions for further tsunami research and new early warning technologies. WHOI is unique in that we have expertise in all the sub-disciplines in tsunami research. We hope that this workshop, as well as a planned discussion group prior to the conference, will significantly increase the interactions and collaborations between WHOI researchers and engineers, thus accelerating WHOI’s contribution to tsunami research and hazard mitigation endeavors.

1. Workshop goal and objectives:

Tsunamis are among the most destructive natural hazard, and yet their complex processes are still poorly understood. While the Dec. 26, 2004 magnitude-9.3 earthquake off Sumatra, Indonesia, has triggered a devastating tsunami that killed at least 167,000 people in a dozen of Indian Ocean countries, another great magnitude-8.7 earthquake on March 28, 2005 only created minor tsunami waves. Both the 2004 and 2005 great earthquakes are thrust events on the Java Trench and are located next to each other and yet have resulted in drastically different tsunamis. What are the main causes for the overwhelming energy of the 2004 tsunami?  Was it because the 2004 earthquake had one of the longest earthquake rupture zone (over 1,200 km) ever recorded?  Was it because the northern rupture zone lies in open water, directly exposing beaches in Thailand, India, and Sri Lanka to the tsunami waves?  Or was it because the earthquake epicenter was relatively shallow?

In the 20th century, worldwide damaging tsunamis occurred between 5-21 per decade, while non-damaging tsunamis range between 54 to 137 per decade (http://www.earthquake.usgs.gov/eqinthenews/2004/usslav/tsustats.pdf). However, our understanding of the tsunami processes is still rudimentary and sometime incorrect, resulting in failure to accurately predict tsunamis in many instances. We believe strongly that progress in this research direction will be greatly accelerated through increased interactions and collaborations between marine geologists, oceanographers, and engineers. The goal of this proposed workshop is to promote such interdisciplinary research efforts.

The workshop has three primary objectives: (1) To review the state-of-the-art investigation on tsunami observation, theoretical modeling, and early warning technology; (2) To promote interdisciplinary discussion between researchers in marine geology, physical oceanography, ocean engineering, marine policy and hazard preparation; and (3) To identify promising directions for further tsunami research and new early warning technologies.



Originally published: January 1, 2005

Last updated: December 10, 2014