Offshore Behavior of Tsunami Waves

Team: 121


Area of Science: Oceanography and Physics

Interim: Purpose

Tsunami is a Japanese word that means, "harbor wave". The word tsunami is now used to refer to any series of long waves that are generated by a rapid, large-scale disturbance of the sea floor. Typically, a tsunami wave strikes the shoreline almost 3 hours after the initial onset of the tsunami. Due to the localization of tsunamis near a given shoreline, this implies that the superior response near the shoreline is partly due to localized dynamic properties.

This report is designed to promote a better understanding of a Tsunami wave. The mechanics of a tsunami wave are investigated and the mathematical and physical properties describing a tsunami. This report investigates a tsunami wave by examining a variety of wave velocities and studying the change in the physical properties of the wave as it approaches and impacts a shoreline.

Due to the recent seismic activities that have produced large-scale tsunamis that impact a coastal environment, a need for a better understanding of a tsunami wave arose. In addition, this report develops the kinetic energies and momentum for a spectrum of representative tsunami waves.


After studding the mathematical and physical properties of a tsunami wave, a real world tsunami is simulated through computer modeling. The project develops a model for a typical tsunami; the mathematics and the physics of a tsunami wave are studied through parametric simulations of the behavior of a typical tsunami wave. The kinetics, momentum, including wave velocity and wave mass is discussed for a range of values.

Expected Results

With a change of slope and length of a beach, the momentum and kinetic energy of the wave will change do to varying friction. If the results hold true, it is hoped that a better development of understanding of the behavior of a tsunami wave in the foreshore of a coastline and the potential destructive energy of a tsunami.

Progress to Date

Currently, the basic program, written in C++, has been written to model the physical properties of a tsunami wave. Using Excel, charts and graphs have been made for a parametric study of the kinetic energy and momentum of a tsunami wave as a result of varying velocities. A basic sin function has been created for a range of waves to model the behavior of a tsunami. Also, the Introduction, Project Proposal, and Analytical Methodology sections of the final report have been started.


Gonzalez, F.I., K. Satake, E.F. Boss, and H.O. Mofjeld (1995): Edge Wave and Non-Trapped Modes of the 25 April 1992 Cape Mendocino Tsunami

Mofjeld, H.O., V.V. Titov, F.I. Gonzalez, and J.C. Newman (2000): Analytical Theory of Tsunami Wave Scattering in the Open Air with Application to the North Pacific

Thurman, Harold V. Introductory Oceanography. Columbus, Ohio: Bell & Howell Company, 1975.

Titov, V.V., H.O. Mofjeld, F.I. Gonzalez, and J.C. Newman (1999):Offshore Forecasting of Alaska-Aleutian Subduction Zone Tsunamis in Hawaii

S. Koshimura and H. O. Mofjeld: Puget Sound Tsunami Inundation ModelingPreliminary Report : Phase 2

Team Members

Ben Fox
Kyle Youngs
Manuel Guadiana
Richard Paul

Team Members:

  Benjamin Fox
  Gregory Youngs
  Manuel Guadiana
  Richard Paul

Sponsoring Teacher: Peggy Larisch