skip to Main Content

UH Manoa College of Engineering faculty receive $1.3 million to develop performance-based tsunami engineering guidelines

Research begins this week with a survey of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina along Mississippi coastline

University of Hawaiʻi
Ian Robertson, (808) 383-0534
College of Engineering
Arlene Abiang, (808) 956-5637
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Sep 27, 2005

HONOLULU — The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Engineering has received a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation‘s National Earthquake Engineering Simulation-Research Program to lead a multi-university, four-year research project to develop Performance-Based Tsunami Engineering, which will help to improve design guidelines for future construction of buildings in coastal areas subject to tsunami inundation and/or hurricane storm surge.

The project will commence this week with a reconnaissance trip to the Gulf Coast areas around Biloxi, Mississippi that were damaged by storm surge during Hurricane Katrina. Lead investigators Ian Robertson and Ron Riggs of the College of Engineering at UH Mānoa will document the effects of the hurricane storm surge on coastal infrastructure along an industrial coastline.

"We plan to collect data on the type and quantity of water borne debris that may have impacted buildings along the coastline," explained Dr. Robertson. "Satellite images of the area indicate debris ranging from automobiles and power poles in residential areas, to shipping containers and barges in industrial and port areas."

Robertson and Riggs will also record the effect that the debris had on engineered structures, such as multi-story buildings, in the coastal inundation zone. During a subsequent trip to the area in late October, co-investigators Solomon Yim from Oregon State University and Julie Young from Princeton, will collect data on bridge and scour damage.

For more information and updates regarding the project, visit

About the National Earthquake Engineering Simulation-Research Program (NEES)

NEES is a new era in National Science Foundation-funded earthquake engineering research to speed earthquake loss-reduction. NEES represents the culmination of over a decade of planning and construction by the earthquake engineering community to develop advanced earthquake engineering experimental research capabilities in the United States. NEES offers opportunities in earthquake engineering to enable or enhance the study of larger scope, requiring experimental resources, in a more systematic way than previously possible. Funding for projects is aimed to support innovative research into the performance of structural, nonstructural, geotechnical, hydraulic, and other civil and mechanical infrastructure systems during earthquake excitation or tsunamis.

For more information, visit: