Numerical Modeling of the 1964 Alaska Tsunami

Web project by Elena Suleimani, PHYS-645


the 1964 Alaska tsunami

three phases of tsunami evolution:

the model and grids





Alaska has the greatest earthquake and tsunami potential in the entire United States. It is a very seismically active region where the Pacific plate is subducting under the north American plate. This suduction zone, the Alaska-Aleutian megathrust zone, creates high tsunami hazards for the adjacent coastal areas. The coseismic crustal movements that characterize this area have a high potential for producing vertical sea floor displacements, which are highly tsunamigenic. Historic tsunamis that were generated by earthquakes in the Alaska-Aleutian subduction zone, have resulted in widespread damage and loss of life along the Alaskan Pacific coast and other exposed locations around the Pacific Ocean. Seismic water waves originating in Alaska can travel across the Pacific and destroy coastal towns hours after they are generated. However, they are considered to be a near-field hazard for Alaska, and can reach Alaskan coastal communities within minutes after an earthquake. Therefore, saving lives and property depends on how well a community is prepared, which makes it essential to model the potential flooding area in a case of a local or distant tsunami.

This map shows Gulf of Alaska with major faults and rupture zones of the 1938, 1946, and 1964 earthquakes.