Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 170, Issue 6–8, pp 1149–1168 | Cite as

Frequency Domain Response at Pacific Coast Harbors to Major Tsunamis of 2005–2011

  • Xiuying Xing
  • Zhiqing Kou
  • Ziyi Huang
  • Jiin-Jen Lee


Tsunamis waves caused by submarine earthquake or landslide might contain large wave energy, which could cause significant human loss and property damage locally as well as in distant region. The response of three harbors located at the Pacific coast (i.e. Crescent City Harbor, Los Angeles/Long Beach Port, and San Diego Harbor) to six well-known tsunamis events generated (both near-field and far-field) between 2005 and 2011 are examined and simulated using a hybrid finite element numerical model in frequency domain. The model incorporated the effects of wave refraction, wave diffraction, partial wave reflection from boundaries, entrance and bottom energy dissipation. It can be applied to harbor regions with arbitrary shapes and variable water depth. The computed resonant periods or modes of oscillation for three harbors are in good agreement with the energy spectral analysis of the time series of water surface elevations recorded at tide gauge stations inside three harbors during the six tsunamis events. The computed wave induced currents based on the present model are also in qualitative agreement with some of the reported eye-witness accounts absence of reliable current data. The simulated results show that each harbor responded differently and significantly amplified certain wave period(s) of incident wave trains according to the shape, topography, characteristic dimensions and water depth of the harbor basins.


Tsunamis harbor harbor resonance earthquake finite element method 



The funding support from the University of Southern California Foundation for Cross-Connection Control & Hydraulic Research is greatly appreciated. The valuable suggestions by the reviewers for including the computed wave induced currents associated with the resonant modes for all three harbors studied are greatly appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiuying Xing
    • 1
  • Zhiqing Kou
    • 2
  • Ziyi Huang
    • 2
  • Jiin-Jen Lee
    • 2
  1. 1.Moffatt and Nichol EngineersLong BeachUSA
  2. 2.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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