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Tsunamis -- The Propagation of Long Waves onto a Shelf


Goring, Derek Garard (1979) Tsunamis -- The Propagation of Long Waves onto a Shelf. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9W957BN.


The various aspects of the propagation of long waves onto a shelf (i.e., reflection, transmission and propagation on the shelf) are examined experimentally and theoretically. The results are applied to tsunamis propagating onto the continental shelf.

A numerical method of solving the one-dimensional Boussinesq equations for constant depth using finite element techniques is presented. The method is extended to the case of an arbitrary variation in depth (i.e., gradually to abruptly varying depth) in the direction of wave propagation. The scheme is applied to the propagation of solitary waves over a slope onto a shelf and is confirmed by experiments.

A theory is developed for the generation in the laboratory of long waves of permanent form, i.e., solitary and cnoidal waves. The theory, which incorporates the nonlinear aspects of the problem, applies to wave generators which consist of a vertical plate which moves horizontally. Experiments have been conducted and the results agree well with the generation theory. In addition, these results are used to compare the shape, celerity and damping characteristics of the generated waves with the long wave theories.

The solution of the linear nondispersive theory for harmonic waves of a single frequency propagating over a slope onto a shelf is extended to the case of solitary waves. Comparisons of this analysis with the nonlinear dispersive theory and experiments are presented.

Comparisons of experiments with solitary and cnoidal waves with the predictions of the various theories indicate that, apart from propagation, the reflection of waves from a change in depth is a linear process except in extreme cases. However, the transmission and the propagation of both the transmitted and the reflected waves in general are nonlinear processes. Exceptions are waves with heights which are very small compared to the depth. For these waves, the entire process of propagation onto a shelf in the vicinity of the shelf is linear . Tsunamis propagating from the deep ocean onto the continental shelf probably fall in this class.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Civil Engineering
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Civil Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Raichlen, Fredric
Group:W. M. Keck Laboratory of Hydraulics and Water Resources
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:17 November 1978
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
W. M. Keck Laboratory of Hydraulics and Water Resources Report38
Funding AgencyGrant Number
New Zealand Ministry of Works and DevelopmentUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:10172017-155041868
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription DocumentThesis Published as Technical Report KH-R-38
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:10524
Deposited By: Kathy Johnson
Deposited On:17 Oct 2017 23:17
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:18

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