The 2011 Tohoku Tsunami on the Coast of Mexico: A Case Study

The 2011 Tohoku Tsunami on the Coast of Mexico: A Case Study The Tohoku (East Japan) earthquake of 11 March 2011 (M w 9.0) generated a great trans-oceanic tsunami that spread throughout the Pacific Ocean, where it was measured by numerous coastal tide gauges and open-ocean DART (Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis) stations. Statistical and spectral analyses of the tsunami waves recorded along the Pacific coast of Mexico have enabled us to estimate the principal parameters of the waves along the coast and to compare statistical features of the tsunami with other tsunamis recorded on this coast. We identify coastal “hot spots”—Manzanillo, Zihuatanejo, Acapulco, and Ensenada—corresponding to sites having highest tsunami hazard potential, where wave heights during the 2011 event exceeded 1.5–2 m and tsunami-induced currents were strong enough to close port operations. Based on a joint spectral analysis of the tsunamis and background noise, we reconstructed the spectra of tsunami waves in the deep ocean and found that, with the exception of the high-frequency spectral band (>5 cph), the spectra are in close agreement with the “true” tsunami spectra determined from DART bottom pressure records. The departure of the high-frequency spectra in the coastal region from the deep-sea spectra is shown to be related to background infragravity waves generated in the coastal zone. The total energy and frequency content of the Tohoku tsunami is compared with the corresponding results for the 2010 Chilean tsunami. Our findings show that the integral open-ocean tsunami energy, I 0, was ~2.30 cm2, or approximately 1.7 times larger than for the 2010 event. Comparison of this parameter with the mean coastal tsunami variance (451 cm2) indicates that tsunami waves propagating onshore from the open ocean amplified by 14 times; the same was observed for the 2010 tsunami. The “tsunami colour” (frequency content) for the 2011 Tohoku tsunami was “red”, with about 65% of the total energy associated with low-frequency waves at frequencies <1.7 cph (periods >35 min). The “red colour” (i.e., the prevalence of low-frequency waves) in the 2011 Tohoku, as well as in the 2010 Chile tsunamis, is explained by the large extension of the source areas. In contrast, the 2014 and 2015 Chilean earthquakes had much smaller source areas and, consequently, induced “bluish” (high-frequency) tsunamis. Pure and Applied Geophysics Springer Journals

The 2011 Tohoku Tsunami on the Coast of Mexico: A Case Study

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Springer International Publishing
Copyright © 2017 by Springer International Publishing AG
Earth Sciences; Geophysics/Geodesy
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