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Evaluation of Tsunami Risk to Southern California Coastal Cities

By Mark R. Legg, in collaboration with Jose C. Borrero and Costas E. Synolakis of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Southern California. Large offshore tsunamigenic earthquakes for the southern California coast near Los Angeles may have recurrence times of 200-500 years. The tremendous value of coastal property, including major port facilities, urban infrastructure, and large populations, creates the potential for great loss from these infrequent offshore events. This report focuses on tsunami potential from major offshore earthquake sources, including estimating tsunami amplitude, run-up, inundation, and probability of occurrence. With a simulated moment magnitude 7.6 earthquake, the authors model the Santa Catalina Island platform with elastic dislocations along two major fault sections comprised of seven individual segments. Coastal run-up of about one to two meters was predicted over most of the region for the largest scenario modeled. Other scenarios are used to evaluate the variability in potential earthquake sources and resulting tsunamis. Tsunami potential is estimated based on the likelihood of large offshore earthquakes with significant seafloor uplift such as those modeled in this study. In general, the maximum run-up scales result from wave propagation effects.

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