Skip to main content
Log in

Linear and nonlinear computations of the 1992 Nicaragua earthquake tsunami

  • Published:
pure and applied geophysics Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Numerical computations of tsunamis are made for the 1992 Nicaragua earthquake using different governing equations, bottom frictional values and bathymetry data. The results are compared with each other as well as with the observations, both tide gauge records and runup heights. Comparison of the observed and computed tsunami waveforms indicates that the use of detailed bathymetry data with a small grid size is more effective than to include nonlinear terms in tsunami computation. Linear computation overestimates the amplitude for the later phase than the first arrival, particularly when the amplitude becomes large. The computed amplitudes along the coast from nonlinear computation are much smaller than the observed tsunami runup heights; the average ratio, or the amplification factor, is estimated to be 3 in the present case when the grid size of 1 minute is used. The factor however may depend on the grid size for the computation.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Abe, Ku., Abe, Ka., Tsuji, Y. Imamura, F., Katao, H., Ito Y., Satake, K., Bourgeois, J. Noguera, E., andEstrada, F. (1993),Field Survey of the Nicaragua Earthquake and Tsunami of 2 September 1992, Bull. Earthq. Res. Inst., Univ. Tokyo68, 23–70 (in Japanese).

    Google Scholar 

  • Aida, I., Tsubokawa, H., andKawaguchi, M. (1988),Numerical Experiments on Behavior of Tsunamis Exceeding the Design Height of a Sea Wall: Case Studies for Matsuzaki, Shizuoka Prefecture and Taro, Iwate Prefecture, Zisin, J. Seismol. Soc. Japan41, 343–350 (in Japanese).

    Google Scholar 

  • Baptista, A. M., Priest, G. R., andMurty, T. S. (1993),Field Survey of the 1992 Nicaragua Tsunami, Marine Geodesy,16, 169–203.

    Google Scholar 

  • Baptista, A. M., Westerink, J. J., andTurner, P. J. (1989),Tides in the English Channel and Southern North Sea. A Frequency Domain Analysis Using Model TEA-NL, Adv. Water Resources12, 166–183.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dronkers, J. J.,Tidal Computations in Rivers and Coastal Waters (North-Holland Publishing Company, 1964).

  • Ide, S., Imamura, F., Yoshida, Y., andAbe K. (1993),Source Characteristics of the Nicaragua Tsunami Earthquake of September 2, 1992, Geophys. Res. Lett.20, 863–866.

    Google Scholar 

  • Imamura, F., Shuto, N., Ide S., Yoshida, Y., andAbe, K. (1993),Estimate of the Tsunami Source of the 1992 Nicaragua Earthquake from Tsunami Data, Geophys. Res. Lett.20, 1515–1518.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kajiura, K. (1984),On Runup of Solitary Waves. Tsunami Engin. Tech. Rep., Tohoku Univ.1, 49–62 (in Japanese).

    Google Scholar 

  • Kanamori, H., andKikuchi, M. (1993),The 1992 Nicaragua Earthquake: A Slow Tsunami Earthquake Associated with Subducted Sediments, Nature361, 714–716.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kikuchi, M., andKanamori, H. (1995),Source Characteristics of the 1992 Nicaragua Tsunami Earthquake Inferred from Teleseismic Body Waves, Pure and Appl. Geophys, this issue.

  • Kowalik, Z., andMurty, T. S.,Numerical Modeling of Ocean Dynamics (World Scientific, 1993).

  • Kowalik, Z., andWhitmore, P. M. (1991),An Investigation of Two Tsunamis Recorded at Adak, Alaska, Sci. Tsunami Hazards9, 67–83.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mader, C. L.,Numerical Modeling of Water Waves (Univ. California Press, 1988).

  • Okada, Y. (1985),Surface Deformation due to Shear and Tensile Faults in a Half-space, Bull Seismol Soc. Am.75, 1135–1154.

    Google Scholar 

  • Press, W. H., Teukolsky, S. A., Vetterling, W. T., andFlannery, B. P.,Numerical Recipes in FORTRAN: The Art of Scientific Computing (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992).

  • Satake, K. (1989),Inversion of Tsunami Waveforms for the Estimation of Heterogeneous Fault Motion of Large Submarine Earthquakes: The 1968 Tokachi-oki and the 1983 Japan Sea Earthquakes, J. Geophys. Res.94, 5627–5636.

    Google Scholar 

  • Satake, K. (1994),Mechanism of the 1992 Nicaragua Tsunami Earthquake, Geophys. Res. Lett.21, 2519–2522.

    Google Scholar 

  • Satake, K., Bourgeois, J., Abe, Ku. Abe, Ka., Tsuji, Y., Imamura, F., Iio, Y., Katao, H., Noguera, E., andEstrada, F. (1993),Tsunami Field Survey of the 1992 Nicaragua Earthquake, EOS, Trans. Am. Geophys. Union74, 156–157.

    Google Scholar 

  • Satake, K., andTanioka, Y., (1995),Generation and Propagation Characteristics of the 1993 Hokkaido Nansei-oki Earthquake Tsunamis, Pure and Appl. Geophys., this issue.

  • Shuto, N. (1991),Numerical Simulation of Tsunamis — Its Present and Near Future, Natural Hazards4, 171–191.

    Google Scholar 

  • Synolakis, C. E., andSkjelbreia, J. E. (1993),Evolution of Maximum Amplitude of Solitary Waves on Plane Beaches, J. Waterway, Port, Coastal and Ocean Engin.119, 323–342.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tadepalli, S., andSynolakis, C. E. (1994),The Runup of N Waves on Sloping Beaches, Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A.445, 99–112.

    Google Scholar 

  • Titov, V. V., andSynolakis, C. E.,A numerical study of wave runup of the September 2, 1992 Nicaraguan tsunami, Proc. IUGG/IOC Inter. Tsunami Symposium, (Wakayama, Japan, 1993) pp. 627–635.

  • Velasco, A. A., Ammon, C. J., Lay, T., andZhang, J. (1994),Imaging a Slow Bilateral Rupture with Broadband Seismic Waves: The September 2, 1992 Nicaraguan Tsunami Earthquake, Geophys. Res. Lett.,21, 2629–2632.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Satake, K. Linear and nonlinear computations of the 1992 Nicaragua earthquake tsunami. PAGEOPH 144, 455–470 (1995).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words