Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 170, Issue 6–8, pp 1249–1274 | Cite as

Comparison of the 2010 Chile and 2011 Japan Tsunamis in the Far Field

  • Jose C. BorreroEmail author
  • S. Dougal Greer


In this study we analyze water level data from coastal tide gauges and deep-ocean tsunameters to explore the far-field characteristics of two major trans-Pacific tsunamis, the 2010 Chile and the 2011 Japan (Tohoku-oki) events. We focused our attention on data recorded in California (14 stations) and New Zealand (31 stations) as well as on tsunameters situated along the tsunami path and proximal to the study sites. Our analysis considers statistical analyses of the time series to determine arrival times of the tsunami as well as the timing of the largest waves and the highest absolute sea levels. Fourier and wavelet analysis were used to describe the spectral content of the tsunami signal. These characteristics were then compared between the two events to highlight similarities and differences between the signals as a function of the receiving environment and the tsunami source. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of far-field tsunami characteristics in the Pacific Ocean, which has not experienced a major tsunami in nearly 50 years. As such, it systematically describes the tsunami response characteristics of modern maritime infrastructure in New Zealand and California and will be of value for future tsunami hazard assessments in both countries.


Tsunami time-series analysis tide gauge long waves spectral analysis wavelet analysis ports harbor resonance New Zealand California 



Rob Bell provided the data from the network of tidal stations managed by NIWA; he also provided numerous helpful contributions to the analysis. Derek Goring assisted with numerous discussions and guidance on the proper care and handling of time-series data for long-wave analysis. Yong Wei of NOAA/PMEL provided the processed tsunami records from the DART tsunameter network. Gerald Hovis and the staff of NOAA’s Oceanographic Division assisted in the acquisition and organization of the California tide gauge data. Comments from two nonanonymous reviewers helped to improve the paper. The authors would like to thank their girlfriends for putting up with the obsession to complete this project, as it consumed many weekends and evenings which otherwise could have been spent with them.

Supplementary material

24_2012_559_MOESM1_ESM.docx (2.1 mb)
S1: Wavelet spectrograms and water level time series for the Chile (left column) and Japan (right column) tsunamis on the GNS tide gauges in New Zealand (DOCX 2128 kb)
24_2012_559_MOESM2_ESM.docx (2.4 mb)
S2: Wavelet spectrograms and water level time series for the Chile (left column) and Japan (right column) tsunamis on the NIWA tide gauges in New Zealand (DOCX 2489 kb)
24_2012_559_MOESM3_ESM.docx (2.4 mb)
S1: Wavelet spectrograms and water level time series for the Chile (left column) and Japan (right column) tsunamis on the NOAA tide gauges in California (DOCX 2465 kb)
24_2012_559_MOESM4_ESM.docx (1.5 mb)
S1: Wavelet spectrograms and water level time series for the Chile (left column) and Japan (right column) tsunamis on selected DART tsunameters in the Pacific Ocean (DOCX 1502 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.eCoast Ltd.RaglanNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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