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Award Abstract #0421090

NEESR-SG: Physical modeling of 3D Tsunami Evolution Using a Landslide Tsunami Generator

Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation
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Initial Amendment Date: September 13, 2004
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Latest Amendment Date: October 31, 2007
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Award Number: 0421090
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Joy Pauschke
CMMI Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation
ENG Directorate for Engineering
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Start Date: October 1, 2004
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End Date: September 30, 2008 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $450,019.00
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Investigator(s): Hermann Fritz fritz@gatech.edu (Principal Investigator)
Leonid Germanovich (Co-Principal Investigator)
Alexander Puzrin (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: Georgia Tech Research Corporation
Office of Sponsored Programs
Atlanta, GA 30332-0420 (404)894-4819
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Program Reference Code(s): 1057, 1576, CVIS
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Program Element Code(s): 7396


Tsunamis can be generated directly by seismic impact. However, in some seismic events tsunamis have

been observed to be triggered by the massive failure of the sea floor in the form of giant submarine

landslides. According to the National Geophysical Data Center and World Data Center for Solid Earth

Geophysics as well as Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, in the Pacific Ocean alone, 65

tsunami events attributed to submarine landslide caused a total number of 14,661 deaths.

Our ultimate long-term goal is to develop a fundamental understanding of the mechanism of

tsunamigenic landslides and subsequent tsunami generation, propagation, and run-up, which would allow

for improved assessment and possible mitigation of the landslide and tsunami hazard. Unfortunately, the

field data from real world observations are limited to very few cases, while the most important part of this

data related to the tsunami generation stage is almost completely missing. The goal of the proposed

research is to compensate for this lack of data by the physical modeling of 3-dimensional tsunami

evolution using a novel landslide tsunami generator which will complement the existing NEES tsunami

facilities. Towards this goal, the following subset of objectives will be achieved in the proposed research:

Objective 1. Model Similitude: The governing model similitude, defining the design parameters for the

proposed landslide tsunami generator, will be determined using dimensional analysis.

Objective 2. A Novel Landslide Tsunami Generator: The proposed novel computer controlled

pneumatic landslide acceleration mechanism, will enable individual control of the dynamic landslide

parameters such as landslide location, geometry and acceleration.

Objective 3. Landslide Parameters: To design of the experimental program we propose to determine

the geometries and velocities of tsunamigenic landslides from the case histories. However, in order to

cover the whole range of possible parameter combinations we are planning to use the novel analytical and

numerical models of the shear-band propagation mechanisms of tsunamigenic landslides.

Objective 4. Experimental Program: In the proposed experiments we shall measure the characteristics

of the subaqueous landslide motion and the near-field tsunami generation, propagation and run-up in three

dimensions. In addition the resulting landslide deposits will be mapped and their thickness recorded.

Objective 5. Validation of the Proposed Mechanisms: The measured landslide and tsunami

characteristics will be compared to the existing real world observations providing a validation for

physical, analytical and numerical models used in this research. This will justify the use of these models

in the development of fundamental understanding of the coupled landslide and tsunami mechanisms and

allow us to develop recommendations for the future experimental and theoretical research.

Expected Intellectual Merit of the Research: The proposed research will advance knowledge and

understanding of landslide generated tsunamis . one of the most devastating natural hazards. Originality

of the proposed work is based on its interdisciplinary nature, which combines experimental and

theoretical Fluid, Soil and Fracture Mechanics approaches. The project is a joint effort between three

Georgia Tech faculty members who combine expertise in fluid mechanics, physical modeling and tsunami

hazards, soil mechanics and geotechnical engineering, rock and fracture mechanics.

Expected Broader Impact of the Research: Understanding of landslide and tsunami mechanisms has

broad implications not only to engineering but also to human endeavors. It will enhance both assessment

and mitigation of tsunami and landslide hazards. The novel landslide generator developed in this research

will complement existing NEES tsunami facilities both in the present and future studies. The funds

provided from this proposal will be used to educate and support two graduate students. The results of this

research will be incorporated into existing undergraduate and graduate level courses, and a new graduate

course on Natural Hazards will be jointly developed by PIs. The results will be disseminated to a broad

scientific and engineering audience through publications in high-impact professional journals and via

presentations at national and international meetings. K12 audience will be reached by popular lectures

and Internet postings emphasizing the important role of Civil Engineering profession in mitigation of

natural hazards.


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Brett Hansen. "Researchers Replicate Landslide-Generated Tsunamis," Civil Engineering Magazine, v.77(2), 2007, p. 30.

Mohammed, F. and H.M. Fritz. "3D Granular Landslide Tsunami Experiments," Proceedings 2008 Ocean Sciences Meeting, ASLO, AGU, 2008.

Mohammed, F., H.M. Fritz. "Prediction of Tsunami Waves and Runup generated by granular Landslides," Eos Trans. AGU, 89(53), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract OS53B, 2008.

Puzrin, AM; Germanovich, LN; Kim, S. "Catastrophic failure of submerged slopes in normally consolidated sediments," GEOTECHNIQUE, v.54, 2004, p. 631. 

Puzrin, AM; Germanovich, LN. "The growth of shear bands in the catastrophic failure of soils," PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY A-MATHEMATICAL PHYSICAL AND ENGINEERING SCIENCES, v.461, 2005, p. 1199.   


Fritz, H.M.. "Physical modeling of landslide generated tsunami.", 10/01/2006-09/30/2007, , A. Mercado-Irizarry and P.L.-F. Liu"Caribbean Tsunami Hazard",  2006, "World Scientific, Singapore, 308-324.".

Fritz, H.M.. "Physical modeling of landslide generated tsunami.", 10/01/2007-09/30/2008, , A. Mercado-Irizarry and P.L.-F. Liu"Caribbean Tsunami Hazard",  2006, "World Scientific, Singapore, 308-324.".


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