NHRP / Hazard themes / Geological Hazards / Tsunami / Tsunami research 2012-13

Tsunami research 2012-13

NIWA Cook Strait Survey w/caption

While no significant tsunami events affected New Zealand in 2012, we continue to be susceptible to tsunami from both far and near-field sources. Far-field sources affecting New Zealand arise from distant events, such as with the 2011 Tohoku earthquake-tsunami sequence. Near-field sources originate within a few hundred km, or less than one hour travel time from a given coastal point. These can be generated from local faults, subduction thrust events, and submarine landslides. An integrated Platform approach is leading these research areas, relating geological hazards data with risk and infrastructure concerns.

 Dr Joshu Mountjoy (NIWA) is leading a team researching near-field tsunami sources from landslides within the Cook Strait Canyon. This three-year Platform contestable project will quantify the likelihood of landslide tsunami in coastal areas in the Wellington and Marlborough regions. The team is developing and testing numerical models for landslide-tsunami generation and assessing the sensitivity of tsunami to complex seafloor terrain to ensure wave generation is as realistic as possible. The resulting model workflow for probabilistic landslide-tsunami hazard assessment will become a template for application to other areas where a landslide tsunami hazard exists. Their research findings will be shared with local government authorities and tailored for inclusion as a hazard module in Riskscape.

Dr William Power (GNS Science), Professor Bruce Melville (University of Auckland), and Dr José Borrero (eCoast Ltd) are working together to improve tsunami warnings and real time hazards assessments in New Zealand’s ports and harbours. This research will provide MCDEM with a set of guidelines and decision making tools for estimating the onset time, severity, and duration of tsunami-induced water levels, currents, and surges at ports and harbours. Their studies will include analyses of recent far-field tsunamis in New Zealand combined with numerical modelling that takes into account the size and location of the tsunami source, as well as local basin and shelf scale effects. Power and Melville aim to integrate the research results into the decision-making structure of the Tsunami Experts Panel (TEP), a group of tsunami scientists who advise MCDEM in the event of a significant, trans-oceanic tsunami event. This information will enhance MCDEM’s ability to respond to a far-field tsunami hazard and give site-specific recommendations of the hazard in real time.

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 Last updated 2 October 2013