NUMERICAL SIMULATIONS OF THE 1964 ALASKAN TSUNAMI

James R. Houston, H. Lee Butler

Abstract


Tsunamis are long-period water waves usually generated by earthquakes. They occur predominantly in the Pacific Ocean and can produce massive inundation and destruction. The last major tsunami that seriously impacted the United States was the 1964 Alaskan tsunami. This tsunami was generated in Alaska and caused damage in Alaska, the Hawaiian Islands, and on the west coast of the continental United States. It is the most documented of all tsunamis and the only tsunami for which there is information on the ground motion that generated the tsunami. Numerical models have been used to simulate tsunami generation and propagation. A numerical simulation of the 1964 Alaskan tsunami that included deep ocean propagation was performed by Hwang et al. (1) and a comparison was made with a deep water gage at Wake Island. Houston (2) performed a numerical simulation of this tsunami including both deep ocean and nearshore propagation in the Hawaiian Islands and presented comparisons with tide gage recordings. Although Houston (2) demonstrated the ability of numerical models to propagate tsunamis from source regions to distant shorelines, the Hawaiian Islands considered in his simulation have a very short continental shelf and the conclusions of his study might not be applicable to typical continental areas that have significantly longer continental shelves.

Keywords


tsunami; 1964 Alaskan tsunami; numerical simulation

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