Experiments on Tsunamis Generated by 3D Granular Landslides

Experiments on Tsunamis Generated
by 3D Granular Landslides
F. Mohammed and H.M. Fritz
Abstract Subaerial and submarine landslides can trigger tsunamis with locally
high amplitudes and runup, which can cause devastating effects in the near
field region such as the 1958 Lituya bay, Alaska, 1998 Papua New Guinea and
2006 Java tsunamis. Tsunami generation by submarine and subaerial landslides
were studied in the three dimensional NEES (George E. Brown, Jr. Network
for Earthquake Engineering Simulation) tsunami wave basin (TWB) at Oregon
State University based on the generalized Froude similarity. A novel pneumatic
landslide generator was deployed to control the granular landslide geometry and
kinematics. Measurement techniques such as particle image velocimetry (PIV),
multiple above and underwater video cameras, multiple acoustic transducer arrays
(MTA), as well as resistance wave and runup gauges were applied. The experimental data provided new insights on landslide deformation as it impacts the water
surface, penetrates the water and finally deposits on the bottom of the basin. The
influence of the landslide volume, shape and the impact speed on the generated
tsunami waves were extensively studied. The instantaneous surface velocity fields
measured using the PIV gave insight into the kinematics of the landslide and
wave generation process. At high impact velocities, flow separation occurred on
the slide shoulder resulting in a hydrodynamic impact crater. The measured wave
profiles yielded information on the wave propagation and attenuation. The measured wave speed of the leading wave reaches the theoretical solitary wave celerity
while the trailing waves are slower in nature. Attenuation functions of the leading
wave crest amplitude, the wave length and the time period were obtained to study
the wave behavior in the near field and far field regions. The measured wave data
serves the validation and advancement of 3-dimensional numerical landslide tsunami
and prediction models.
F. Mohammed () and H.M. Fritz
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology,
210 Technology Circle, Savannah, GA 31407, USA
e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected]
D.C. Mosher et al. (eds.), Submarine Mass Movements and Their Consequences,
Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research, Vol 28,
© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2010
F. Mohammed and H.M. Fritz
Keywords Submarine landslide • granular landslide • tsunami • pneumatic
landslide generator •particle image velocimetry •wave attenuation
Landslide generated tsunamis can occur in confined water bodies as well as at
island and continental shelves and coasts where the waves can travel both in offshore and along the shore directions. These landslide generated tsunamis with
locally high amplitudes and runup can be devastative in the near field regions. In
the past, major tsunamis caused by landslides were recorded at Grand Banks in
1927 (Fine et al. 2005), Lituya Bay, Alaska in 1958 (Fritz et al. 2001, 2009; Weiss
et al. 2009), Vajont dam in Italy in 1963 (Müller 1964), the more recent 1998
Papua New Guinea (Synolakis et al. 2002; Bardet et al. 2003), Stromboli (Tinti
et al. 2005, 2006), Java tsunamis (Fritz et al. 2007) and the ancient Storegga slide
(Bondevik et al. 2005). The resulting impulse waves can cause damage due to
large local runup along the coastline and overtopping of dams and reservoirs.
Hence a need arises to understand the effects of the landslide characteristics on
the generated tsunami waves. Physical models of landslide generated tsunami
scenarios provide a detailed understanding of the wave generation and propagation mechanism as well as simultaneously assist advancement of numerical
model development. These analytical and numerical models will allow hazard
assessments of landslide generated tsunamis. Majority of physical experiments
on landslide generated tsunamis have focused on two dimensional tsunami waves
generated by landslides. These experiments were performed by either using solid
blocks sliding on an incline to simulate landslide tsunamis (Heinrich 1992; Watts
2000; Walder et al. 2003; Grilli and Watts 2005) or using granular landslides
(Fritz 2002; Fritz et al. 2003, 2004). Waves generated by three dimensional solid
block landslides were studied by Liu et al. 2005; Panizzo et al. 2005; Enet and
Grilli 2005, 2007; DiRisio et al. 2009 on flat bottoms, on sloping beaches and
conical islands. The aim of the present study is to understand the generation of
tsunami waves by fully three dimensional deformable granular landslides. A realistic description of the landslide is attainable by using deformable materials for
the landslide as compared with solid blocks, which do not account for the landslide deformation due to slide motion, interaction with the water body and
bathymetry. Herein experiments conducted in the Tsunami Wave Basin at Oregon
State University are presented. The study focused on understanding the granular
landslide dynamics above and under water, the generation and propagation of the
resulting tsunami waves as well as the lateral onshore runup. Three dimensionality of the physical model enabled to identify the wave amplitude attenuation
functions in both the radial and the angular directions away from the landslide
source thus enabling us to characterize the wave evolution in the near field as well
as in the far field regions.
Experiments on Tsunamis Generated by 3D Granular Landslides
Experiment Description
The landslide tsunami generator experiments were conducted at the O. H. Hinsdale
Wave Research Laboratory at the Oregon State University, Corvallis. The experiments were performed in the three-dimensional NEES Tsunami Wave Basin (TWB),
which is 48.8 m long, 26.5 m wide and 2.1 m deep. A unique pneumatic landslide
generator was designed and built at Georgia Tech in Savannah and then shipped and
deployed at the Wave Research Lab in Corvallis. The landslide tsunami generator was
constructed as an open aluminum box mounted on a steel slide. The box measures 2.1
by 1.2 by 0.3 m and is filled with 0.756 m3 (upto 1,350 kg) of naturally rounded river
gravel. The granulate material has a bulk density of 2.557 and saturated-surface density of 2.617. The slide box can be subdivided to adjust for the initial slide length and
thickness. The box accelerates down the slope by means of four parallel pneumatic
pistons. The landslide tsunami generator is shown in Fig. 1a.
This apparatus is capable of simulating landslides initiating both above and
below the water surface. The pneumatic pistons accelerate the box to reach launch
speeds up to 4 m/s at slide release. The granular landslide is accelerated in the box
and released by opening the front tarp while the box is decelerated pneumatically.
The entire landslide tsunami generator is positioned on a steel plate with slope
2 H:1 V. Upon deployment, the granulate slides out of the box, spreads down the
slope and impacts the water surface at velocities up to 5 m/s, thereby generating the
tsunami waves. After impacting the water surface, the granular landslide material
deposits on a steel plate placed at the bottom of the wave basin. At the end of an
experimental trial, the steel plate is lifted by means of an overhead crane and the
granular material is filled back into a bucket and the box is reloaded for the next
run. A typical experimental cycle is shown in Fig. 1b. During each experimental
trial, a data acquisition system constantly records the entire process and measures
the water surface elevation. Measurements are made relating to the shape and speed
of the landslide, both above water and underwater, the wave generation process and
Fig. 1 Landslide Tsunami Generator, LTG. (a) Pneumatic acceleration mechanism with four
pneumatic pistons in the upper half of the image and the filled slide box with the front tarp; (b)
experimental cycle of the landslide granulate portrays the sled loading, pneumatic launch, landslide recovery and reloading for the sub-sequent trial
F. Mohammed and H.M. Fritz
the wave propagation away from the source and the shape of the deposited slide
material on the bottom of the wave basin. After all the measurements are recorded,
the steel plate with the landslide deposit is lifted, the recovered slide deposit
dumped into a bucket and the box refilled for the next trial.
A wide array of instrumentation is deployed in the wave basin to measure the
characteristics of the granular landslide and the generated tsunami waves. Four
parallel stringpots measure the box motion and provide information on the pneumatic
acceleration and deceleration of the gravel filled box. Thus, before the landslide is
released from the box, the slide front velocity corresponds to the box velocity.
An array of above water and under water cameras is shown in Fig. 2a. These camera
measurements provide an insight into the landslide kinematics and the slide shape
evolution down the slope. A Multi Transducer Array (MTA) is used at the end of
each trial to survey the landslide deposit and measure its shape, volume and the
extent of the deposited granular material. An array of resistance wave gauges is
deployed to measure the generated tsunami wave surface elevation and the tsunami
runup wave elevation on the slope lateral to the landslide. The wave gauge array is
shown in Fig. 2b. The wave gauges are positioned to measure the wave properties
along both the radial and the angular direction in the wave basin. A high resolution
(1,600 × 1,200 pixels) Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) camera is setup to record
the landslide on the slope and the water surface in the impact zone. The digital, high
sensitivity PIV camera with 14-bit pixel-depth is positioned at a distance of 6.8 m
perpendicular to the hill slope providing an approximate 15 m2 (4.5 by 3.38 m)
viewing area. The PIV analysis provides an insight into the kinematics of the wave
generation process and the landslide motion down the slope. All the cameras are
calibrated in situ by placing calibration plates with regular dot patterns in the various
measurement planes both above and underwater to account for optical refraction.
Experiment Trial Conditions
A total of 62 trials were completed with the landslide tsunami generator in the tsunami wave basin to study the tsunami generation by granular landslides. The material
used for the landslide is composed of naturally rounded fine gravel spanning sieve sizes
Fig. 2 Instrumentation setup. (a) Underwater and above water camera setup to record the landslide kinematics; (b) Planform of the wave gauge array installed in the TWB to measure the
landslide generated tsunami wave characteristics. Distances in (m)
Experiments on Tsunamis Generated by 3D Granular Landslides
6.35 to 19 mm. Different trials were conducted to study the effects of varying water
depths, landslide volumes and impact speeds on the generated tsunami waves. The
trials were conducted at water depths of 0.3, 0.6, 0.9, 1.2 and 1.35 m. The varying
water depths provide a wide range of generated waves from the shallow water depth
wave regime to the intermediate water depth wave regime. Four different pneumatic
launch pressures provide four different cases of landslide release velocities ranging
from 2 to 4 m/s resulting in impact velocities up to 5.5 m/s. By fixing a plate midway
along the length of the box, the initial mass loading of the box is restricted to half the
original volume. This enables us to have two testing loads of the granular landslide
material of roughly 1,350 and 675 kg. Thus the varying water depth conditions combined
with the slide characteristics provide a wide range of non-dimensional parameters
governing the generated tsunami wave data. This allows characterizing the effects of
various slide properties and water depths on generated tsunami waves.
Data Analysis
Pneumatic Landslide Generator Performance
The pneumatic pistons accelerate the slide box over the first two thirds of the 2 m
piston stroke, while the latter third is dedicated to pneumatic deceleration. At the
maximum velocity of the box, it begins to decelerate thus releasing the landslide
Fig. 3 Slide box displacement based on string pot recordings and landslide front veloc-ity measured from the PIV images for a case at 10 bar initial pneumatic firing pressure
F. Mohammed and H.M. Fritz
material from the box. Until the release point, the landslide front velocity is the
same as the box velocity. After the landslide releases from the box, the images
recorded by the PIV camera are used to measure the front velocity. The landslide
front velocity with the stringpot data along the slope direction is shown in Fig. 3.
The coordinate system for measuring the landslide impact velocity is defined with
the x-direction following the incline of the slope, the y-axis in the transverse
direction along the lateral spreading of the landslide and the z-direction points
perpendicularly upwards from the incline. The origin is the front of the box when
at rest. By collecting all the data for similar landslide cases at all water depths and
transforming to the slope fixed coordinate system, the complete evolution of the
landslide front velocity above the water surface is obtained. The displacement
curve of the landslide box is characterized by initial acceleration driven by the
pneumatic pistons up to the release point as shown in Fig. 3. After the landslide is
released from the box, further acceleration down the incline is purely influenced by
gravity, friction and resistance by the surrounding fluid. Simultaneously the slide
box is decelerated pneumatically to a stopping point.
Landslide Characteristics
The generated tsunami wave characteristics depend on the normalized slide impact
velocity and the shape of the slide at the impact, namely the maximum width and
thickness of the slide relative to the water depth. The slide widths are measured
from the PIV image sequences. A combination of time stacking and image processing techniques are used to extract the information on the slide widths. From a series
of images, the time stacked image of one particular row is generated by subtracting
an image from its previous image and stacking one below the other. This helps in
enhancing the change in the image at the next time level. The time stacked image
is filtered using a circular averaging filter of radius 32 pixels to eliminate individual
grains that scatter on the lateral boundary of the landslide and do not form part of
the bulk slide mass that generates the tsunami waves. By applying a threshold on
the grayscale of the image, it is converted into a binary image, where the white
region corresponds to the slide material and the black region is the background of
the slope. Then the edge of this bulk material is extracted. By subtracting the edges
along each row in the image, the evolution of the width with respect to time is
obtained at that particular location. By repeating this process along the length of the
slope above the water surface, the complete width evolution with respect to space
and time is obtained. Then the maximum width is determined across the length of
the slope at each time level to obtain the maximum width evolution over time of the
landslide material.
A sample time stacked image and the maximum extracted width is shown in
Fig. 4a, b. The time t = 0 corresponds to the time of the landslide impact on
the water surface. The extracted width shows the lateral spreading of the slide material to reach a maximum width followed by a gradual decrease in slide width.
Experiments on Tsunamis Generated by 3D Granular Landslides
A corresponding raw image sequence is shown in Fig. 4c. Side cameras are used
to extract information on the evolution of the slide thickness with respect to time
both above water and under water. The underwater information is limited to cases
where there is sufficient visibility to identify the landslide material and extract its
thickness. An edge extraction is shown for a series of underwater images at a water
depth of 0.6 m, pneumatic firing pressure of 10 bar and 1,350 kg of the granular
material in Fig. 5a. The landslide deposit from the MTA survey is shown in Fig. 5b.
This data is extrapolated linearly to obtain the full extent of the deposit and measure
the volume of the slide material that gets deposited underwater.
Fig. 4 Landslide width for water depth 0.6 m, 10 bar firing pressure and 1,350 kg of granular
material. (a) Time Stacked image shown with the extracted edge of the slide material; (b).
Landslide width evolution versus time. t = 0 corresponds to the moment when the landslide
impacts the water surface; (c) Lateral spreading of the landslide material above the water surface
Fig. 5 Experiment case of water depth 0.6 m, pneumatic firing pressure 10 bar and 1,350 kg of
granular material. (a) Underwater landslide thickness estimation; (b) granular landslide deposit
surveyed by the MTA
F. Mohammed and H.M. Fritz
Tsunami Wave Characteristics
The velocity on the landslide surface and the water surface is obtained from the
cross-correlation analysis based processing of the PIV image sequences. The water
surface is sprinkled with slightly buoyant seeding particles to enable the PIV analysis.
The speckled pattern generated by the landslide granulate surface and the particles
reflecting light on the water surface are used for iterative multi-pass cross correlation analysis with decreasing window sizes down to 32 by 32 pixels (Raffel et al.
1998; Fritz et al. 2003a). Since the landslide and the water surface are in two different planes, the image is rectified twice using calibration boards to obtain the PIV
velocity measurements for the landslide and the water surface in m/s rather than in
pixel/s. Measured velocity vectors on the landslide surface are shown in Fig. 6. The
impact of the landslide on the water surface generates the first wave which travels
radially away from the landslide source. The PIV analysis provides insight on the
radial wave generation, the crater dynamics including the collapse and the subsequent
runup with secondary wave formation after the rundown (Fritz et al. 2003b). Thus
two distinct runup waves propagate in the transverse direction with high amplitudes.
The water surface elevation measured by the wave gauges along the landslide
direction (0°), along a ray which is at 30° from the landslide direction and the lateral runup along shore (90°) is shown in Fig. 7. The recorded wave profiles were
strongly directional, unsteady, nonlinear and mostly in the intermediate water depth
wave regime. The leading wave is followed by a train of dispersive waves as seen
in Fig. 7. The waves display the characteristic shape of a large trough between two
crests. The first crest is generated when the landslide impacts the water surface and
pushes the water column away from the landslide. The impact creates a cavity
Fig. 6 Velocity vectors computed with the cross-correlation PIV-analysis on the landslide surface
during the wave generation process for 10 bar pneumatic launch pressure
Fig. 7 Wave surface elevation measured at the resistance wave gage array: (a) The 0° offshore direction in prolongation of the landslide axis at X/h = 8.5,
14.2, 23.3 and 40.2; (b) Along a 30° ray at X/h = 6.5, 8.5 and 14.2; (c) Lateral along shore runup direction (90°) at Y/h = 3.3, 4.3, 6.3 and 9.3
Experiments on Tsunamis Generated by 3D Granular Landslides
F. Mohammed and H.M. Fritz
which contributes the large trough. Then the collapse of this cavity creates a second
hillslope runup and subsequently the rundown forms the second wave crest. This
source oscillation is followed by decreasing repetitions of wave up rush and draw
down resulting in a trailing wave train behind the first two initially dominant wave
crests. By identifying the locations, where the water surface departs from the mean
water level, the upcrossing points are identified. Then the water surface between
two successive up crossing points is identified as a single wave and the subsequent
wave crest and trough are identified.
The wave celerity is determined by measuring the time taken for the wave crests
and troughs to travel the distance between subsequent wave gauges. Figure 8 shows
the measured speed of the crests and troughs of the first three waves. The first wave
crest speed in many cases approaches the theoretical limit celerity of the non-linear
solitary wave theory, which is governed only by water depth and amplitude dispersion. The speed of a solitary wave is given by Boussinesq (1872).
= 1+
which compares with the wave celerity given by Tanaka (1986) (Glimsdal et al.
2007). However the second and the third waves are shorter in wave length and
Fig. 8 Measured crest and trough speed of the first three waves between the wavegages for all the
experimental trials. The amplitude is non-dimensionalized by the water depth and the speed by the
shallow water speed (gh)1/2
Experiments on Tsunamis Generated by 3D Granular Landslides
Fig. 9 Wave amplitude attenuation for water depth 0.6 m, 10 bar firing pressure and roughly
1,350 kg of slide material: (a) The first wave crest amplitude versus the radial distance where it is
measured in the wave basin; (b) First wave crest amplitude versus angle for the same case
therefore travel at a reduced celerity as compared to the first wave. The source
amplitudes of landslide generated tsunamis are only limited by the landslide Froude
number and the relative slide thickness, and can therefore exceed source amplitudes
of tectonic tsunamis. However radial spreading combined with both amplitude and
frequency dispersion results in more rapid decrease in leading wave heights compared to tectonic tsunamis. Consequently landslide tsunamis can have devastating
impacts on coastal communities near the source, while far field hazards are rapidly
reduced. The first wave crest amplitude for an experimental case of water depth
0.6 m, firing pressure 10 bar and full load is shown in Fig. 9a. It is assumed that the
wave amplitude depends on the radial coordinate as a1 = krn, where the coefficients
F. Mohammed and H.M. Fritz
k and n account for the source parameters such as the landslide impact speed, width,
thickness and water depth. The wave amplitude also decays rapidly in the angular
direction away from the landslide direction. The first wave crest as a function of
angular direction for the same case is shown in Fig. 9b. Here u = 0° correspond to
the landslide direction. The results portray cos u dependency on the amplitude
decay in the angular direction. The initial wave characteristics are governed by
the non-dimensional landslide parameters, while the wave propagation is solely
dependent upon the wave parameters and water depth.
The three dimensional pneumatic landslide tsunami generator was designed,
constructed and successfully deployed in the NEES tsunami wave basin at OSU.
The uniqueness of this apparatus lies in its large scale, ability to test with granular
material and controlled acceleration of the slide. To date, 62 successful trials were
completed to study the effects of landslide characteristics and water depth conditions on the generated tsunami wave. The landslide characteristics and the main
tsunami parameters such as the wave speed and amplitude were determined.
The generated waves are strongly directional, nonlinear and varyingly dispersive. The
maximum wave amplitudes of the generated wave trains demonstrate an exponential decay with radial distance away from the landslide source and in the angular
direction as well. The measured wave speed approaches the limiting theoretical
approximation of the solitary wave theory, which can be used for predictions of
tsunami arrival times. The landslide tsunamis exhibit more dispersive propagation
than tectonic tsunamis (Glimsdal et al. 2006; Loualalen et al. 2007). Since water
displacement can significantly exceed the landslide volume due to the impact cavity
at high speeds, the generated wave amplitude is high at the impact location. Thus
the landslide waves can be very destructive locally. However the localized tsunami
source and radial spreading combined with dispersion result in rapid wave height
decay with propagation distance. The PIV analysis provides an insight into the
wave generation process and reveals potential for fully 3D surface and velocity
reconstruction. Ultimately the analysis of landslide generated tsunami waves
includes describing the entire landslide evolution as it traverses from the subaerial
to the submarine regime. In particular, describing the slide width and thickness
along the slope will provide an insight into rheological dependency of landslide
deformation during the impact. The generated tsunami characteristics will be
related to the impact velocity and shape of the slide. Further energy transfer rates
between the slide and the water body will be determined. The slide and wave data
is used to benchmark and advance numerical models for prediction and warning.
Acknowledgements This research work is supported by the National Science Foundation under
Grant N0. CMMI-0421090 and CMMI-0402490. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or
recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the
views of the National Science Foundation.
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