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Tsunamis - a model of their generation and propagation


Hammack, Joseph Leonard (1972) Tsunamis - a model of their generation and propagation. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/4XTB-TS46.


A general solution is presented for water waves generated by an arbitrary movement of the bed (in space and time) in a two-dimensional fluid domain with a uniform depth. The integral solution which is developed is based on a linearized approximation to the complete (nonlinear) set of governing equations. The general solution is evaluated for the specific case of a uniform upthrust or downthrow of a block section of the bed; two time-displacement histories of the bed movement are considered.

An integral solution (based on a linear theory) is also developed for a three-dimensional fluid domain of uniform depth for a class of bed movements which are axially symmetric. The integral solution is evaluated for the specific case of a block upthrust or downthrow of a section of the bed, circular in planform, with a time-displacement history identical to one of the motions used in the two-dimensional model.

Since the linear solutions are developed from a linearized approximation of the complete nonlinear description of wave behavior, the applicability of these solutions is investigated. Two types of non-linear effects are found which limit the applicability of the linear theory: (1) large nonlinear effects which occur in the region of generation during the bed movement, and (2) the gradual growth of nonlinear effects during wave propagation.

A model of wave behavior, which includes, in an approximate manner, both linear and nonlinear effects is presented for computing wave profiles after the linear theory has become invalid due to the growth of nonlinearities during wave propagation.

An experimental program has been conducted to confirm both the linear model for the two-dimensional fluid domain and the strategy suggested for determining wave profiles during propagation after the linear theory becomes invalid. The effect of a more general time-displacement history of the moving bed than those employed in the theoretical models is also investigated experimentally.

The linear theory is found to accurately approximate the wave behavior in the region of generation whenever the total displacement of the bed is much less than the water depth. Curves are developed and confirmed by the experiments which predict gross features of the lead wave propagating from the region of generation once the values of certain nondimensional parameters (which characterize the generation process) are known. For example, the maximum amplitude of the lead wave propagating from the region of generation has been found to never exceed approximately one-half of the total bed displacement. The gross features of the tsunami resulting from the Alaskan earthquake of 27 March 1964 can be estimated from the results of this study.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Engineering
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Engineering and Applied Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Raichlen, Fredric
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:10 April 1972
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:04182016-131851689
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9678
Deposited On:18 Apr 2016 21:21
Last Modified:09 Nov 2022 19:20

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