Probabilistic tsunami hazard assessment for the United States East Coast

Teresa Krause, University of Rhode Island


Public interest in tsunamis has increased dramatically due to the devastating consequences of recent events in Indonesia (2004) and Japan (2011). Efforts are underway by both private industry and the United States federal government to develop probabilistic tsunami hazard assessment (PTHA) for coastal regions. An important component of a PHTA is understanding the hazard posed by different tsunami sources. Large magnitude earthquakes are known to be a significant source of tsunamis, but there is increased awareness that submarine landslides may also pose a significant tsunami hazard in some regions. As part of a prior research project, a promising approach to assess the tsunami hazard from submarine landslides for the northeast U.S. was developed at the University of Rhode Island in 2006 and 2009 [1–3]. More recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has funded the National Tsunami Hazard Project (NTHMP) to assess the tsunami hazard for the entire U.S. East Coast. The objective of this thesis is to extend the PTHA for the U.S. East Coast from Massachusetts to Florida. The analysis involves performing Monte Carlo simulations of slope stability analyses and then estimating tsunami amplitudes and runup caused by failed slopes. Transects were taken along the continental slope and pseudo-static slope stability analyses were performed assuming that the potential failures were induced by a combination of seismicity and pore pressures. Probabilistic ground motions were obtained from the U.S. Geological Survey. Once a slope failure was determined to occur the size of generated tsunami was estimated based on previous work at the University of Rhode Island [4–6]. The results are presented as estimates of coastal runup for the U.S. East Coast for 100- and 500-year tsunamis, and areas with higher hazard are identified. These areas should be the target of more focused study in the future. The final step in this work is to identify specific landslide candidates along the coast that may cause high runups. With those properties further modeling can estimate the tsunami generation and propagation more accurately.

Subject Area

Civil engineering|Ocean engineering

Recommended Citation

Teresa Krause, "Probabilistic tsunami hazard assessment for the United States East Coast" (2011). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI1501410.