Tsunami generation by submarine mass failure. I: Modeling, experimental validation and sensitivity analyses

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Numerical simulations are performed with a two-dimensional (2D) fully nonlinear potential flow (FNPF) model for tsunami generation by two idealized types of submarine mass failure (SMF): underwater slides and slumps. These simulations feature rigid or deforming SMFs with a Gaussian cross section, translating down a plane slope. In each case, the SMF center of mass motion is expressed as a function of geometric, hydrodynamic, and material parameters, following a simple wavemaker formalism, and prescribed as a boundary condition in the FNPF model. Tsunami amplitudes and runup are obtained from computed free surface elevations. Model results are experimentally validated for a rigid 2D slide. Sensitivity studies are performed to estimate the effects of SMF-shape, type, and initial submergence depth - on the generated tsunamis. A strong SMF deformation during motion is shown to significantly enhance tsunami generation, particularly in the far-field. Typical slumps are shown to generate smaller tsunamis than corresponding slides. Both tsunami amplitude and runup are shown to depend strongly on initial SMF submergence depth. For the selected SMF idealized geometry, this dependence is simply expressed by power laws. Other sensitivity analyses are presented in a companion paper, and results from numerical simulations are converted into empirical curve fits predicting characteristic tsunami amplitudes as functions of nondimensional governing parameters. It should be stressed that these empirical formulas are only valid in the vicinity of the tsunami sources and, because of the complexity of the problem, many simplifications were necessary. It is further shown in the companion paper how 2D results can be modified to account for three-dimensional tsunami generation and used for quickly estimating tsunami hazard or for performing simple case studies. Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal, and Ocean Engineering © ASCE.

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Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal and Ocean Engineering