A Caltech Library Service

The Runup of Long Waves


Synolakis, Constantine Emmanuel (1986) The Runup of Long Waves. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/REBC-D787.


This is a study of the fundamental physical processes of the runup of long waves with the objective to understand some coastal effects of tsunamis.

The runup of nonbreaking long waves on plane beaches is studied and an exact solution is developed for the runup of solitary waves. The maximum runup predicted by this solution is compared to laboratory data from this and other investigations and it is found to be in good agreement. A runup transducer was developed and deployed in the laboratory to provide data for the shape of the runup tongue. The exact solution is shown to model the details of the climb of the wave satisfactorily.

The runup of breaking long waves on plane beaches is investigated in the laboratory by studying different long waves and bores of finite volume. The runup is shown to be a function of a momentum scale determined from the generation characteristics of the incoming wave. The runup number is introduced and it is demonstrated that it models the runup process adequately. It is also observed that arbitrary long waves have runup numbers smaller than, or at most equal to, the runup number of breaking solitary waves, suggesting that on a given plane beach breaking solitary waves run-up further than other long waves with similar generation characteristics.

An exact result is established for the force on an accelerating plate in a fluid with a free surface. The result is used to explain some of the results of this study and other results on the hydrodynamic forces on moving partitions.

A technique is developed to generate arbitrary, long, continuously evolving waves at any desired location in a laboratory model. The technique is applied in the laboratory and it is shown to be successful in reproducing complex waveforms.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Solitary waves; tsunamis
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
Thesis Committee:
  • Raichlen, Fredric (chair)
  • List, John A.
  • Jennings, Paul C.
  • Brooks, Norman H.
  • Whitham, Gerald Beresford
  • Imberger, Jorg
Defense Date:12 January 1986
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-09122007-111121
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:3506
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:12 Sep 2007
Last Modified:21 Dec 2019 02:23

Thesis Files

PDF (Synolakis_ce_1986.pdf) - Final Version
See Usage Policy.


Repository Staff Only: item control page