National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2015

Tsunami forecast by joint inversion of real-time tsunami waveforms and seismic or GPS data: Application to the Tohoku 2011 tsunami

Wei, Y., A.V. Newman, G.P. Gavin, V.V. Titov, and L. Tang

Pure Appl. Geophys., 171(12), 3281–3305, doi: 10.1007/s00024-014-0777-z (2014)

Correctly characterizing tsunami source generation is the most critical component of modern tsunami forecasting. Although difficult to quantify directly, a tsunami source can be modeled via different methods using a variety of measurements from deep-ocean tsunameters, seismometers, GPS, and other advanced instruments, some of which in or near real time. Here we assess the performance of different source models for the destructive 11 March 2011 Japan tsunami using model–data comparison for the generation, propagation, and inundation in the near field of Japan. This comparative study of tsunami source models addresses the advantages and limitations of different real-time measurements with potential use in early tsunami warning in the near and far field. The study highlights the critical role of deep-ocean tsunami measurements and rapid validation of the approximate tsunami source for high-quality forecasting. We show that these tsunami measurements are compatible with other real-time geodetic data, and may provide more insightful understanding of tsunami generation from earthquakes, as well as from nonseismic processes such as submarine landslide failures.

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