Steps Towards the Implementation of a Tsunami Detection, Warning, Mitigation and Preparedness Program for Southwestern Coastal Areas of Mexico
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The highly vulnerable Pacific southwest coast of Mexico has been repeatedly affected by local, regional and remote source tsunamis. Mexico presently has no national tsunami warning system in operation. The implementation of key elements of a National Program on Tsunami Detection, Monitoring, Warning and Mitigation is in progress. For local and regional events detection and monitoring, a prototype of a robust and low cost high frequency sea-level tsunami gauge, sampling every minute and equipped with 24 hours real time transmission to the Internet, was developed and is currently in operation. Statistics allow identification of low, medium and extreme hazard categories of arriving tsunamis. These categories are used as prototypes for computer simulations of coastal flooding. A finite-difference numerical model with linear wave theory for the deep ocean propagation, and shallow water nonlinear one for the near shore and interaction with the coast, and non-fixed boundaries for flooding and recession at the coast, is used. For prevention purposes, tsunami inundation maps for several coastal communities, are being produced in this way. The case of the heavily industrialized port of Lázaro Cárdenas, located on the sand shoals of a river delta, is illustrated; including a detailed vulnerability assessment study. For public education on preparedness and awareness, printed material for children and adults has been developed and published. It is intended to extend future coverage of this program to the Mexican Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas.
KeywordsTsunamis coastal flooding vulnerability assessment warning system instrumentation mitigation and preparedness middle-America trench off Mexico
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