Articles | Volume 16, issue 2
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 577–593, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-16-577-2016

Special issue: Risk and uncertainty estimation in natural hazards

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 577–593, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-16-577-2016

Research article 29 Feb 2016

Research article | 29 Feb 2016

Tsunami hazard warning and risk prediction based on inaccurate earthquake source parameters

Katsuichiro Goda1 and Kamilla Abilova2 Katsuichiro Goda and Kamilla Abilova
  • 1Department of Civil Engineering, Queen's School of Engineering, University of Bristol, Queen's Building, University Walk, Bristol, BS8 1TR, UK
  • 2Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PJ, UK

Abstract. This study investigates the issues related to underestimation of the earthquake source parameters in the context of tsunami early warning and tsunami risk assessment. The magnitude of a very large event may be underestimated significantly during the early stage of the disaster, resulting in the issuance of incorrect tsunami warnings. Tsunamigenic events in the Tohoku region of Japan, where the 2011 tsunami occurred, are focused on as a case study to illustrate the significance of the problems. The effects of biases in the estimated earthquake magnitude on tsunami loss are investigated using a rigorous probabilistic tsunami loss calculation tool that can be applied to a range of earthquake magnitudes by accounting for uncertainties of earthquake source parameters (e.g., geometry, mean slip, and spatial slip distribution). The quantitative tsunami loss results provide valuable insights regarding the importance of deriving accurate seismic information as well as the potential biases of the anticipated tsunami consequences. Finally, the usefulness of rigorous tsunami risk assessment is discussed in defining critical hazard scenarios based on the potential consequences due to tsunami disasters.

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Short summary
This study investigates the issues related to underestimation of earthquake magnitude in the context of tsunami early warning and tsunami risk assessment. The investigation is motivated by the past case of early warning performance and consequences during the 2011 Tohoku tsunami in Japan. The quantitative tsunami loss results provide with valuable insights regarding the importance of deriving accurate seismic information as well as the potential biases of the anticipated tsunami consequences.
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