Multiscale Modelling of the 2011 Tohoku Tsunami with Fluidity: Coastal Inundation and Run-up.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Jon Hill1, Robert Martin-Short2, Matthew D Piggott3 and Adam S Candy3, (1)Imperial College London, London, SW7, United Kingdom, (2)University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, United States, (3)Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
Tsunami-induced flooding represents one of the most dangerous natural hazards to coastal communities around the world, as exemplified by Tohoku tsunami of March 2011. In order to further understand this hazard and to design appropriate mitigation it is necessary to develop versatile, accurate software capable of simulating large scale tsunami propagation and interaction with coastal geomorphology on a local scale. One such software package is Fluidity, an open source, finite element, multiscale, code that is capable of solving the fully three dimensional Navier-Stokes equations on unstructured meshes. Such meshes are significantly better at representing complex coastline shapes than structured meshes and have the advantage of allowing variation in element size across a domain. Furthermore, Fluidity incorporates a novel wetting and drying algorithm, which enables accurate, efficient simulation of tsunami run-up over complex, multiscale, topography. Fluidity has previously been demonstrated to accurately simulate the 2011 Tohoku tsunami (Oishi et al 2013) , but its wetting and drying facility has not yet been tested on a geographical scale. This study makes use of Fluidity to simulate the 2011 Tohoku tsunami and its interaction with Japan's eastern shoreline, including coastal flooding. The results are validated against observations made by survey teams, aerial photographs and previous modelling efforts in order to evaluate Fluidity's current capabilities and suggest methods of future improvement. The code is shown to perform well at simulating flooding along the topographically complex Tohoku coast of Japan, with major deviations between model and observation arising mainly due to limitations imposed by bathymetry resolution, which could be improved in future. In theory, Fluidity is capable of full multiscale tsunami modelling, thus enabling researchers to understand both wave propagation across ocean basins and flooding of coastal landscapes down to interaction with individual defence structures. This makes the code an exciting candidate for use in future studies aiming to investigate tsunami risk elsewhere in the world.

Oishi, Y. et al. Three-dimensional tsunami propagation simulations using an unstructured mesh finite element model. J. Geophys. Res. [Solid Earth] 118, 2998–3018 (2013).