Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 166, Issue 1–2, pp 131–152 | Cite as

Numerical Study of Tsunami Generated by Multiple Submarine Slope Failures in Resurrection Bay, Alaska, during the MW 9.2 1964 Earthquake

  • Elena SuleimaniEmail author
  • Roger Hansen
  • Peter J. Haeussler


We use a viscous slide model of Jiang and LeBlond (1994) coupled with nonlinear shallow water equations to study tsunami waves in Resurrection Bay, in south-central Alaska. The town of Seward, located at the head of Resurrection Bay, was hit hard by both tectonic and local landslide-generated tsunami waves during the MW 9.2 1964 earthquake with an epicenter located about 150 km northeast of Seward. Recent studies have estimated the total volume of underwater slide material that moved in Resurrection Bay during the earthquake to be about 211 million m3.

Resurrection Bay is a glacial fjord with large tidal ranges and sediments accumulating on steep underwater slopes at a high rate. Also, it is located in a seismically active region above the Aleutian megathrust. All these factors make the town vulnerable to locally generated waves produced by underwater slope failures. Therefore it is crucial to assess the tsunami hazard related to local landslide-generated tsunamis in Resurrection Bay in order to conduct comprehensive tsunami inundation mapping at Seward. We use numerical modeling to recreate the landslides and tsunami waves of the 1964 earthquake to test the hypothesis that the local tsunami in Resurrection Bay has been produced by a number of different slope failures. We find that numerical results are in good agreement with the observational data, and the model could be employed to evaluate landslide tsunami hazard in Alaska fjords for the purposes of tsunami hazard mitigation.


Landslide-generated tsunamis numerical modeling 1964 Alaska earthquake Resurrection Bay Seward 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elena Suleimani
    • 1
    Email author
  • Roger Hansen
    • 1
  • Peter J. Haeussler
    • 2
  1. 1.Geophysical InstituteUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  2. 2.USGS, Alaska Science CenterAnchorageUSA

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