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The 2004 December 26 Indian Ocean tsunami impact on Sri Lanka: cascade modelling from ocean to city scales

Abstract : The 2004 December 26 Indian Ocean tsunami severely hit Sri Lanka. Although it was not in the direct path of the initial tsunami waves, the western coast was struck by diffracted waves that caused much damage. The numerical model GEOWAVE is used to compute tsunami generation, propagation and inundation from the earthquake source to the Sri Lankan coast. A nested grid system is constructed to increase the resolution until Galle Bay, on the southwestern coast, where a 20 m-grid is used. The six nested topobathymetric grids are interpolated from ETOPO2 and high resolution data, at sea as onshore. Simulation results are compared with tsunami height data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA; US) and Geological Survey & Mines Bureau (GSMB; Sri Lanka). When the grid resolution increases, the discrepancy between the model and the data remains, on average, good, whereas its spread increases. We then conclude that the order of magnitude of the tsunami height is consistent from the 180 m-resolution grid, but the spatial imprecision is too high to locally predict reliable water heights. Nevertheless, the comparison between computed time-series of sea surface elevation at the Colombo tide station and tide-gauge data shows a very good agreement as both amplitude, and arrival time of the first wave are well reproduced. When focusing onshore, the modelled inundation limit is compared with the limit measured in the field. With its a priori setup, computed inundation spreads much farther behind the field limit. We then integrate more accurate nearshore conditions into the model. Non-linear shallow water equations are chosen instead of fully non-linear Boussinesq equations; the bottom friction on land is increased to a much higher value than at sea; the buildings cover and the low tide conditions are taken into account in the DEM. The resulting high resolution simulation agrees better with field data, even if discrepancies are still locally observed in places of DEM imprecision and in a river valley. This simulation, however, demonstrates that taking into account nearshore and onshore features may significantly improve tsunami impact assessment.
Keywords : Tsunamis Indian Ocean
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Soumis le : jeudi 2 septembre 2010 - 10:43:07
Dernière modification le : mardi 31 mars 2020 - 09:20:11

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Blanche Poisson, Manuel Garcin, Rodrigo Pedreros. The 2004 December 26 Indian Ocean tsunami impact on Sri Lanka: cascade modelling from ocean to city scales. Geophysical Journal International, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2009, 177 (3), p. 1080-1090. ⟨10.1111/j.1365-246X.2009.04106.x⟩. ⟨hal-00514391⟩

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