A Revised Evaluation of Tsunami Hazards along the Chinese Coast in View of the Tohoku-Oki Earthquake

Huimin Helen Jing, Huai Zhang, David A. Yuen, Yaolin Shi

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8 Scopus citations


Japan's 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake and the accompanying tsunami have reminded us of the potential tsunami hazards from the Manila and Ryukyu trenches to the South China and East China Seas. Statistics of historical seismic records from nearly the last 4 decades have shown that major earthquakes do not necessarily agree with the local Gutenberg-Richter relationship. The probability of a mega-earthquake may be higher than we have previously estimated. Furthermore, we noted that the percentages of tsunami-associated earthquakes are much higher in major events, and the earthquakes with magnitudes equal to or greater than 8. 8 have all triggered tsunamis in the past approximately 100 years. We will emphasize the importance of a thorough study of possible tsunami scenarios for hazard mitigation. We focus on several hypothetical earthquake-induced tsunamis caused by Mw 8. 8 events along the Manila and Ryukyu trenches. We carried out numerical simulations based on shallow-water equations (SWE) to predict the tsunami dynamics in the South China and East China Seas. By analyzing the computed results we found that the height of the potential surge in China's coastal area caused by earthquake-induced tsunamis may reach a couple of meters high. Our preliminary results show that tsunamis generated in the Manila and Ryukyu trenches could pose a significant threat to Chinese coastal cities such as Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macao. However, we did not find the highest tsunami wave at Taiwan, partially because it lies right on the extension of an assumed fault line. Furthermore, we put forward a multi-scale model with higher resolution, which enabled us to investigate the edge waves diffracted around Taiwan Island with a closer view.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-138
Number of pages10
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work was supported by the Chinese Deep Crust Exploration Project Sino-Probe 07, National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (863 Program) (no. 2010AA012402) and the K.C. Wong Magna Fund of Ningbo University. Dave Yuen thanks the CMG program of the US National Science Foundation. This research received technical assistance from the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute.


  • Chinese coast
  • Multi-scale simulation
  • Tsunami hazard


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