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Simulating Tsunami Inundation and Soil Response in a Large Centrifuge.


Tsunamis are rare, extreme events and cause significant damage to coastal infrastructure, which is often exacerbated by soil instability surrounding the structures. Simulating tsunamis in a laboratory setting is important to further understand soil instability induced by tsunami inundation processes. Laboratory simulations are difficult because the scale of such processes is very large, hence dynamic similitude cannot be achieved for small-scale models in traditional water-wave-tank facilities. The ability to control the body force in a centrifuge environment considerably reduces the mismatch in dynamic similitude. We review dynamic similitudes under a centrifuge condition for a fluid domain and a soil domain. A novel centrifuge apparatus specifically designed for exploring the physics of a tsunami-like flow on a soil bed is used to perform experiments. The present 1:40 model represents the equivalent geometric scale of a prototype soil field of 9.6 m deep, 21 m long, and 14.6 m wide. A laboratory facility capable of creating such conditions under the normal gravitational condition does not exist. With the use of a centrifuge, we are now able to simulate and measure tsunami-like loading with sufficiently high water pressure and flow velocities. The pressures and flow velocities in the model are identical to those of the prototype yielding realistic conditions of flow-soil interaction.

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