University of Hawaii System newsletter

UH Team Studies Impacts of Tsunami Debris

Posted on | September 17, 2010 | Comments Off on UH Team Studies Impacts of Tsunami Debris

An international team of researchers led by Manoa Professor H. Ronald Riggs was awarded a $965,000 grant by the National Science Foundation for a three-year study to improve the understanding of the effects of tsunami-driven debris, such as logs, utility poles and steel shipping containers on buildings and other structures. The team includes Professor Marcelo Kobayashi and collaborators from Oregon State University, Lehigh University, Nagoya University and the Port and Airport Research Institute in Japan.

The impact forces imparted by debris on structures during tsunamis are not well known. At the same time, a vulnerable community’s potential “resilience” to tsunamis depends on the design of effective countermeasures based on scientific knowledge of these forces and updated building codes. This is especially important for “vertical” tsunami evacuation shelters, fuel and chemical storage tanks, and port and industrial facilities often located within tsunami inundation zones.

The Mānoa-led research team will carry out experiments at the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation facility at Lehigh to understand the impact of full-scale shipping containers on structural elements.

The project is expected to obtain a rich set of experimental data to develop and validate two numerical models. The first is a simplified model that can be immediately used in structural design and a more complex fluid-structure interaction model based on computational fluid dynamics theories. The second is an extended model that will allow the researchers to explore complex factors not included in the simple model and to consider scenarios that cannot be covered by the planned experimental observations.

Read the news release.