On March 11, one of the costliest natural disasters in history occurred when Japan’s northeast coast was struck by a tsunami. In the wake of this disaster, world scientists have been working to improve tsunami detection and assessment. However, before the tsunami ever hit Japan, researchers at the Texas A&M University at Galveston Maritime Systems Engineering Department were working to understand the behavior and forecast the occurrence and magnitude of tsunamis. Beginning March 30, the university will host two tsunami workshops with world-renowned tsunami experts presenting their research.
The forums are sponsored by the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, a workgroup within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The program was created by the U.S. Congress in 1995 to minimize the impact of tsunamis upon human life and property through hazard assessment, warning guidance, and mitigation.
Specific goals of the workshop bring national and international experts together to address major aspects of landslide-induced tsunamis such as those which have occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. Experts participating in the workshops are researchers who use physics, mathematics and computer models to create virtual tsunamis. These virtual models are designed to study and predict the impact of real tsunamis.
The first forum focuses on mapping and modeling tsunamis. It will run from 8 am to 5:15 pm, March 30 through March 31 (Wednesday through Thursday), and 8 am to noon, April 1 (Friday). This workshop will take place on the third floor of the Oceans and Coastal Sciences Building (OSCB 3029).
The second workshop addresses the behavior of underwater landslides related to tsunami production, such as those recorded in the Gulf of Mexico. This workshop is slated from 8 am to 5 pm, April 2 (Saturday) and 9 am to 4 pm, April 3 (Sunday). It will take place in Room 141 in the OCSB 3029 building. Access for parking for both workshops will be in the Sea Aggie Center parking area, located near the Sea Aggie Building 3026. (Campus buildings are prominently numbered).
Vijay Panchang, Ph.D., PE and Maritime Systems Engineering Department Head at Texas A&M University at Galveston, said the workshop will be the “epicenter” for science related to tsunamis.
“The top tsunami experts in the world will gather here in Galveston to discuss the best techniques for modeling tsunami propagation, and how we can improve the accuracy of tsunami predictions such as arrival time, wave height and flooding,” said Panchang.
Representing the Gulf of Mexico region at the workshop, Dr. Juan Horrillo, TAMUG tsunami expert and assistant professor at TAMUG’s Maritime Systems Engineering Department, said mathematical modeling is critical to tsunami disaster planning and response.
“The first step in mitigating a tsunami is to understand how it works,” he said. “With mathematical models, we can show how the wave energy propagates in the ocean, and how geological movements affect wave patterns. We study the dynamics between the ocean and coastal morphology to determine impact upon human life and property,” Horrillo said.
The NTHMP workshop is expected to raise tsunami awareness, and develop more accurate maps and models that can be used to improve warning guidance and evacuation maps. For more information about the workshop, contact Dr. Horrillo at (409) 740-4465 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Texas A&M University at Galveston is the maritime and marine-based branch campus of Texas A&M University. It is a special purpose institution offering academic programs, research and service in marine and maritime studies TAMUG is home to the Texas Maritime Academy, the only maritime academy located on the Gulf Coast. TAMUG students are known as “Sea Aggies” and like their College Station counter-parts, receive the Aggie Ring and a Texas A&M University diploma.