This paper concerns tsunami modeling from wave propagation to inundation of dense urban area through reproduction of a laboratoryscale event. The adopted hydrodynamic model is based on the finite volume shock-capturing solution to the 2D nonlinear shallow water equations and is implemented on modern graphics processing units (GPUs) to achieve high-performance simulations. After being validated through reproduction of flow hydrodynamics, the model is further applied to quantify the tsunami impact on urban building structures by calculating pressure forces.


Tsunami represents a major type of natural hazards to the world's coastlines. Once it happens, a tsunami may cause wide-spreading damage to both natural and social systems, and kill lots of lives. For example, the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, triggered by the M9.3 undersea earthquake offshore Sumatra, inundated a large number of coastal communities with waves up to 30m along the Indian Ocean coastline and killed 230,000 people in 14 countries. It was recorded as one of the deadliest natural disasters on book. On 11th March 2011, 20min after the M9.0 Tohoku earthquake, a mega tsunami struck East Japan coastline, travelled up to 10km inland with a maximum runup of over 40m, caused over 15,000 deaths and wide-spreading damage to buildings and infrastructure, including nuclear power stations. Tsunamis have long been perceived as extremely rare events. But worldwide statistics shows that, on average, one damaging tsunami event per year has been reported in the past two decades and tsunami is actually a common type of natural hazards of medium probability and potentially high risk to the world's coastlines (NOAA Center for Tsunami Research 2016).

In order to protect coastal communities and save lives, attention has been given to better plan and design buildings and structures along the coastlines that are under threat of tsunamis, generally by following building guidelines/codes provided by relevant institutions in different countries, e.g. the Building Center of Japan's Structural Design Method of Buildings for Tsunami Resistance (SMBTR) (Okada et al., 2004), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)'s Coastal Construction Manual (FEMA, 2011). Particularly, the Guidelines for Design of Structures for Vertical Evacuation (FEMA, 2012) suggests that the impact of tsunami forces may classify onto hydrostatic force, buoyant force, hydrodynamic force, impulsive force, debris impact force, debris damming force, uplift force and additional gravity load from the retained water on elevated floors.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.