Simulating tsunami propagation in fjords with long-wave models

Løvholt, F.; Glimsdal, S.; Lynett, P.; Pedersen, G.

Tsunamis induced by rock slides constitute a severe hazard towards coastal fjord communities. Fjords are narrow and rugged with steep slopes, and modeling the short-frequency and high-amplitude tsunamis in this environment is demanding. In the present paper, our ability (and the lack thereof) to simulate tsunami propagation and run-up in fjords for typical wave characteristics of rock-slide-induced waves is demonstrated. The starting point is a 1 : 500 scale model of the topography and bathymetry of the southern part of Storfjorden fjord system in western Norway. Using measured wave data from the scale model as input to numerical simulations, we find that the leading wave is moderately influenced by nonlinearity and dispersion. For the trailing waves, dispersion and dissipation from the alongshore inundation on the traveling wave become more important. The tsunami inundation was simulated at the two locations of Hellesylt and Geiranger, providing a good match with the measurements in the former location. In Geiranger, the most demanding case of the two, discrepancies are larger. The discrepancies may be explained by a combinations of factors, such as the accumulated errors in the wave propagation along large stretches of the fjord, the coarse grid resolution needed to ensure model stability, and scale effects in the laboratory experiments.

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Løvholt, F. / Glimsdal, S. / Lynett, P. / et al: Simulating tsunami propagation in fjords with long-wave models. 2015. Copernicus Publications.

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