Outcomes from the 2002 Seattle Workshop
Cliff Astill, NSF, DC
The workshop consisted of two phases. As part of the first phase, the entire group heard presentations by researchers on the current state of modeling in their particular research area. The areas included tectonic generation, propagation and runup of tsunamis, structure-infrastructure response, scour, information transmission and evacuation, rescue and recovery, the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, and economic analyses of tsunami damage. (Note that the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program was initiated in 1996 for the development of state/federal partnership to reduce the impact of tsunamis. The program comprises three federal agencies (NOAA, FEMA, and USGS) and five Pacific States (Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and California); for more detailed description for its mission, see http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/tsunami-hazard/.)
It was clear from the presentations that although substantive progress has
been made in all these areas, the coordination between these disciplines is
incidental and not always well organized. For example, the GIS based evacuation
simulation presented for Sinclair Inlet in Puget Sound, although based on reasonable
inundation levels, is not sufficiently interfaced with the hydrodynamic runup
simulation. As another example, some of the numerical simulations of structure-infrastructure
response require near field boundary conditions not immediately available from
In the second phase, the discussions focused on the possible integration of
simulations into organized scenarios. This phase had a great deal of constructive
input from the attendees and the following points were made:
• The decision to go ahead with integrated tsunami scenario simulations
was enthusiastically supported.
• Examples of other distributed analysis and simulation systems in scientific
research are increasingly abundant.These include areas
such as space physics and nuclear arsenal integrity modeling. As
such, the tsunami community can take advantage of lessons learned
in dealing with difficulties such as data exchange, scalability,
research group mechanics and publication rights.
• The maturity of many of the components of integrated simulations appears
to be adequate for starting the integration. It was,
however noted that a number of areas will require further research
before their outcomes can be validated as accurate or reliable.
• In order to initiate, coordinate and develop the community efforts
for tsunami scenario simulations, another workshop should
The group also discussed several caveats to proceeding with simulations that
would have to be addresse
d by any proposed project. Among these were the following:
• There is a need to proceed quite carefully with preliminary simulation
integration and the subsequent reporting of results,
since the focus of that effort is to examine the mechanics of linking
models from different disciplines and not necessarily the accuracy
of the individual components or the resulting product.
• The issue of model accuracy and benchmarking was an important and continuing
concern. The mechanisms for insuring accuracy of the
integrated simulations need to be provided for in any project plan.
• Since development of an integrated tsunami scenario simulation will
eventually involve a number of individual investigators
and hence a significant portion of the funding available for tsunami
research, the relative roles of basic and applied research were
considered a major issue. It was, however noted that the simulations
could actually have a synergistic effect on the level
of research funding available to study tsunamis and that funding would
be sought from a variety of sponsors.
• The researchers who interact closely with communities, hazards planners
and emergency managers emphasized the need for modeling
actual communities, if not immediately, then as a long term goal.
They also noted the importance of visual displays of quantitative
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