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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Combining Dynamic Earthquake and Tsunami Models With Case Studies Offshore Alaska and Southern California

  • Author(s): Ryan, Kenny J.
  • Advisor(s): Oglesby, David D
  • et al.

Earthquakes and their corresponding tsunamis pose significant hazard to popu- lated regions around the world. Therefore, it is critically important that we seek to more fully understand the physics of the combined earthquake-tsunami system. One way to address this goal is through numerical modeling. The work discussed herein focuses on combining dynamic earthquake and tsunami models through the use of the Finite Element Method (FEM) and the Finite Difference Method (FDM). Dynamic earthquake models ac- count for the force that the entire fault system exerts on each individual element of the model for each time step, so that earthquake rupture takes a path based on the physics of the model; dynamic tsunami models can incorporate water height variations to produce water wave formation, propagation, and inundation. Chapter 1 provides an introduction to some important concepts and equations of elastodynamics and fluid dynamics as well as a brief example of the FEM. In Chapter 2, we investigate the 3-D effects of realistic fault dynamics on slip, free surface deformation, and resulting tsunami formation from an Mw 9 megathrust earthquake offshore Southern Alaska. Corresponding tsunami models, which use a FDM to solve linear long-wave equations, match sea floor deformation, in time, to the free surface deformation from the rupture simulations. Tsunamis generated in this region could have large adverse effects on Pacific coasts. In Chapter 3, we construct a 3-D dynamic rupture model of an earthquake on a reverse fault structure offshore Southern California to model the resulting tsunami, with a goal of elucidating the seismic and tsunami hazard in this area. The corresponding tsunami model uses final seafloor displacements from the rupture model as initial conditions to compute local propagation and inundation, resulting in large peak tsunami amplitudes northward and eastward due to site and path effects. In Chapter 4, we begin to evaluate 2-D earthquake source parameters from characteristics of the Rayleigh-wave field by running a suite of 2-D dynamic rupture models on thrust/reverse faults that vary in dip angle and fault curvature, and with equivalent prestress conditions such as constant traction across the fault or variable prestress distributions. We compare traveling Rayleigh-wave breakout amplitudes with fault slip distribution. Such Rayleigh- wave analysis has implications for early estimation of far-field tsunami amplitude, since source parameters are directly related to tsunami generation and propagation.

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