Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 172, Issue 3–4, pp 953–968 | Cite as

Tsunami Observations in Rivers from a Perspective of Tsunami Interaction with Tide and Riverine Flow



The observations of the 2011 Tohoku tsunami and the 2010 Chilean tsunami in several rivers in Japan and in the Columbia River in the USA are analyzed for patterns of tsunami behavior in river environments. Tsunamis in rivers exhibit actions very different from those observed on an open coast, but very similar among different rivers, though the action scale in different rivers varies greatly. We describe two tsunami effects in rivers as observed in field data. First, the river tide modulates the tsunami wave in a very specific way common to all rivers. Second, a strong near-field tsunami can cause significant prolonged water accumulation in lower river reaches. Both effects are inherent in tidal river environments, and have been reproduced numerically in a simplified 1-D river using a non-linear, shallow-water model with bottom friction. The numerical experiments highlight the indispensable role of a tsunami’s interaction with tide and riverine flow.


Tsunami river water level measurements tide-tsunami interaction wave-current interaction numerical modeling 



The water level data for rivers in Japan were provided by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) and Miyagi Prefectural Government, Japan. The record in Kobama harbor was kindly provided by Dr. Shigeho Kakehi, Tohoku National Fisheries Research Institute. The record in Hachinohe Port was obtained from the Nationwide Ocean Wave Information network for Ports and Harbours (NOWPHAS). Gauge records in Columbia River have been obtained from the NOAA/NOS/CO-OPS public website http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/. DART record has been obtained from NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center public website http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/dart.shtml. Sincere thanks to Prof. Harry Yeh of the Oregon State University, USA for helpful comments and suggestions in the course of this work. The authors also thank the reviewers and the editor for valuable suggestions, and Mr. Igor Tolkov for careful reading and language-editing the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NorthWest Research AssociatesBellevueUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringTohoku UniversitySendaiJapan

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