National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1997

Extreme inundation flows during the Hokkaido-Nansei-Oki tsunami

Titov, V.V., and C.E. Synolakis

Geophys. Res. Lett., 24(11), 1315–1318, doi: 10.1029/97GL01128 (1997)

The tsunami generated by the July 12, 1993 Hokkaido-Nansei-Oki Mw = 7.8 earthquake produced in Japan the worst local tsunami-related death toll in fifty years, with estimated 10-18 m/sec overland flow velocities and 30 m runup. These extreme values are the largest recorded in Japan this century and are among the highest ever documented for non-landslide generated tsunamis. We model this event to confirm the estimated overland flow velocities, and we find that, given reasonable ground deformation data, current state-of-the-art shallow-water wave models can predict tsunami inundation correctly including extreme runup, current velocities and overland flow. We find that even small local topographic structures affect the runup to first-order, and that the resolution of the bathymetric data is more important than the grid resolution. Our results qualitatively suggest that--for this event--coastal inundation is more correlated with inundation velocities than with inundation heights, explaining also why threshold-type modeling has substantially underpredicted coastal inundation for this and other recent events.

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