Numerical Methods for Tsunami Modeling and Hazard Assessment

9 November 2012

 Many geophysical flows over topography can be modeled by two-dimensional
depth-averaged fluid dynamics equations.  The shallow water equations
are the simplest example of this type, and are often sufficiently
accurate for simulating tsunamis and other large-scale flows such
as storm surge.  These hyperbolic partial differential equations
can be modeled using high-resolution finite volume methods.  However,
several features of these flows lead to new algorithmic challenges,
e.g. the need for well-balanced methods to capture small perturbations
to the ocean at rest, the desire to model inundation and flooding,
and that vastly differing spatial scales that must often be modeled,
making adaptive mesh refinement essential. I will discuss some of
the algorithms implemented in the open source software GeoClaw that
is aimed at solving real-world geophysical flow problems over
topography.  I'll also show results of some recent studies of the
11 March 2011 Tohoku Tsunami and discuss the use of tsunami modeling
in probabilistic hazard assessment.