Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 63, Issue 11–12, pp 1213–1232 | Cite as

Forecasting tsunamis in Poverty Bay, New Zealand, with deep-ocean gauges

  • William Power
  • Elena Tolkova


The response/transfer function of a coastal site to a remote open-ocean point is introduced, with the intent to directly convert open-ocean measurements into the wave time history at the site. We show that the tsunami wave at the site can be predicted as the wave is measured in the open ocean as far as 1,000+ km away from the site, with a straightforward computation which can be performed almost instantaneously. The suggested formalism is demonstrated for the purpose of tsunami forecasting in Poverty Bay, in the Gisborne region of New Zealand. Directional sensitivity of the site response due to different conditions for the excitation of the shelf and the bay’s normal modes is investigated and used to explain tsunami observations. The suggested response function formalism is validated with available records of the 2010 Chilean tsunami at Gisborne tide gauge and at the nearby deep-ocean assessment and reporting of tsunamis (DART) station 54401. The suggested technique is also demonstrated by hindcasting the 2011 Tohoku tsunami and 2012 Haida Gwaii tsunami at Monterey Bay, CA, using an offshore record of each tsunami at DART station 46411.


Tsunamis Forecast Seiche Normal mode Response function Poverty Bay 



We acknowledge the New Zealand GeoNet project and its sponsors EQC, GNS Science, and LINZ for providing Poverty Bay gauge records; NOAA/NDBC for providing DART records; NOAA/NOS for providing Monterey gauge records; and Paroscientific, Inc. and Quartz Seismic Sensors, Inc. for providing MARS bottom pressure record. William Power acknowledges support for this work from the New Zealand Natural Hazards Platform.


  1. Bell R, Sutherland R, Barker DHN, Henrys S, Bannister S, Wallace L, Beavan J (2010) Seismic reflection character of the Hikurangi subduction interface, New Zealand, in the region of repeated Gisborne slow slip events. Geophys J Int 180(1):34–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bellotti G, Briganti R, Beltrami GM (2012) The combined role of bay and shelf modes in tsunami amplification along the coast. J Geophys Res 117:C08027. doi: 10.1029/2012JC008061 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bilek SL, Lay T (2002) Tsunami earthquakes possibly widespread manifestations of frictional conditional stability. Geophys Res Lett 29(14). doi: 10.1029/2002GL015215
  4. Burns B (1859) A brief narrative. John Powell, Shrewsbury, p 28Google Scholar
  5. Borrero JC, Greer SD (2013) Comparison of the 2010 Chile and 2011 Japan tsunamis in the far field. Pure Appl Geophys 170(6–8):1249–1274. doi: 10.1007/s00024-012-0559-4
  6. Cho Y-S (1995) Numerical simulations of tsunami and runup. PhD thesis, Cornell UniversityGoogle Scholar
  7. Comte D, Pardo M (1991) Reappraisal of great historical earthquakes in the northern Chile and southern Peru seismic gaps. Natural Hazards 4(1):23–44Google Scholar
  8. Crisp (1877) Notes on the earthquake wave as felt at Gisborne. In: Proceedings of the Auckland Institute, second meeting 25th June, 1877,vol 10. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute, pp 5550–5551Google Scholar
  9. de Lange WP (1997) Tsunami hazard associated with marl diapirism off Poverty Bay, New Zealand. In: Skinner DNB (ed) Geological Society of New Zealand Inc 1997 Annual conference, 25–27Google Scholar
  10. de Lange WP, Moon VG (2004) Estimating earthquake and landslide tsunami hazard for the New Zealand coast. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering 37(2):62–69Google Scholar
  11. Downes G (2011) Historical tsunami database for New Zealand. Unpublished database. GNS Science, Lower HuttGoogle Scholar
  12. Eiby GA (1982) Earthquakes and tsunamis in a region of diapiric folding. Tectonophysics 85:T1–T8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gica E, Spillane MC, Titov VV, Chamberlin CD, Newman JC (2008) Development of the forecast propagation database for NOAA’s short-term inundation forecast for tsunamis (SIFT). NOAA Technical Memorandum OAR PMEL–139, p 89Google Scholar
  14. Kanamori H (1972) Mechanism of tsunami earthquakes. Phys Earth Planet Inter 6:346–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Liu PL-F (1981) Effects of the continental shelf on harbor resonance. In: Iida K, Iwasaki T (eds) Tsunamis—their science and engineering. Terra Science, Tokyo, pp 303–314Google Scholar
  16. Liu PL-F, Cho Y-S, Fujima K (1994a) Numerical solutions of three-dimensional run-up on a circular island. In: Proceedings of international symposium: waves-physical and numerical modelling, Canada, pp 1031–1040Google Scholar
  17. Liu PL-F, Cho Y-S, Yoon SB, Seo SN (1994b) Numerical simulations of the 1960 Chilean tsunami propagation and inundation at Hilo, Hawaii. In: Recent development in tsunami research. Kluwer Academic, Boston, pp 99–115Google Scholar
  18. Liu PL-F, Cho Y-S, Briggs MJ, Synolakis CE, Kanoglu U (1995) Run-up of solitary waves on a circular island. J Fluid Mech 302:259–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lopez M, Iglesias G, Kobayashi N (2012) Long period oscillations and tidal level in the Port of Ferrol. Appl Ocean Res 38:126–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Okal EA, Borrero JC, Synolakis CE (2006) Evaluation of tsunami risk from regional earthquakes at Pisco, Peru. Bull Seismol Soc Am 96:1634–1648CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Okihiro M, Guza RT, Seymour RJ (1993) Excitation of seiche observed in a small harbor. J Geophys Res 98:18201–18211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Paros J, Migliacio P, Schaad T (2012) Nano-resolution sensors for disaster warning systems. In: IEEE conference publishing, OCEANS 2012, Yeosu, KoreaGoogle Scholar
  23. Percival DB, Denbo DW, EbleMC, Gica E, Mofjeld HO, Spillane MC, Tang L, Titov VV (2011) Extraction of tsunami source coefficients via inversion of DART® buoy data. Nat Hazards 58(1):567–590. doi: 10.1007/s11069-010-9688-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rabinovich AB (1997) Spectral analysis of tsunami waves: separation of source and topography effects. J Geophys Res 102/C6:12663–12676CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Raichlen F, Lepelletier TG, Tam CK (1983) Tsunamis—their science and engineering. In: Iida K, Iwasaki T (eds) The excitation of harbors by tsunamis. Terra Science, Tokyo, pp 359–385Google Scholar
  26. Sweldens W, Schröder P (2000) Building your own wavelets at home. Lecture notes in earth sciences 90:72–107. doi: 10.1007/BFb0011093 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Tang L, Titov VV, Chamberlin CD (2009) Development, testing, and applications of site-specific tsunami inundation models for real-time forecasting. J Geophys Res 114:C12025. doi: 10.1029/2009JC005476 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Titov VV, Synolakis CE (1998) Numerical modeling of tidal wave runup. J Waterw Port Coast Ocean Eng 124(4):157–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Tolkova E, Power W (2011) Obtaining natural oscillatory modes of bays and harbors via empirical orthogonal function analysis of tsunami wave fields. Ocean Dyn 61(6):731–751. doi: 10.1007/s10236-011-0388-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Van Dorn WG (1984) J Phys Oceanogr 14:353–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wang X, Liu PL-F (2006) An analysis of 2004 Sumatra earthquake fault plane mechanisms and Indian ocean tsunami. J Hydraulic Res 44(2):147–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Wang X, Orfila A, Liu PL-F (2008) Numerical simulations of tsunami runup onto a three-dimensional beach with shallow water equations. In: Liu PL-F, Yeh HH, Synolakis C (eds) Advanced numerical models for simulating tsunami waves and runup. Advances in coastal and ocean engineering, vol 10. World Scientific, Hackensack, pp 249–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wang X, Liu PL-F (2007) Numerical simulations of the 2004 Indian ocean tsunamis—coastal effects. J Earthq Tsunami 1(3):273–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wijetunge JJ, Wang X, Liu PL-F (2008) Indian Ocean tsunami on 26 December 2004: numerical modelling of inundation in three cities on the south coast of Sri Lanka. J Earthq Tsunami 2(2):133–155Google Scholar
  35. Williams WL (1868) Diary. Transcription extracted from annotations in annotated copy Mackays book. In: Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, NI, NZ - Gisborne, NZ: JA Mackay, 1949, MS-1181, Alexander Turnbull Library, NLNZGoogle Scholar
  36. Xing X, Kou Z, Huang Z, Lee J-J (2013) Frequency domain response at Pacific coast harbors to major tsunamis of 2005–2011. Pure Appl Geophys. doi: 10.1007/s00024-012-0526-0 Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GNS ScienceLower HuttNew Zealand
  2. 2.University of Washington, JISAOSeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations