Realistic tsunami generator would help protect against future catastrophe

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Washington, March 24 (ANI): Scientists have developed and successfully tested a unique wave-generating machine that mimics the activity of real-life tsunamis with unprecedented realism, which would help protect against future catastrophe.

The simulator, tested in an Oxfordshire laboratory, has copied the first massive wave of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

Developed and built with Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funding, the tsunami generator will improve understanding of how tsunamis behave.

Mounted in a 45 metre-long wave channel, the tsunami generator uses a pneumatic (air-driven) system comprising a fan and control valves to suck up water into a tank and then release it in a controlled way.

This makes the facility fundamentally different from all other wave simulators worldwide, which generally use pistons to produce waves by pushing at the water.

The new pneumatic technique has a range of advantages over a piston-based approach. In particular, tests by UCL researchers at HR Wallingford have shown that it can reproduce the draw-down phenomenon that is characteristic of 'trough-led' tsunamis where the sea is sucked out first before rushing back towards the shoreline.

Within the wave channel, or 'flume', the waves created by the tsunami generator are directed over a model coastal slope, enabling their behaviour and effects to be studied in detail.

Specifically, tests with this facility will be used to enhance understanding of the water flows and forces unleashed by tsunamis.

This will aid development of more effective evacuation guidelines for parts of the world potentially at risk from future tsunamis.

This will enable buildings and infrastructure in vulnerable parts of the world to be designed and built in ways that help them withstand these destructive events.

Moreover, because this understanding will make it easier to predict the behaviour of tsunamis at shorelines and when they move inland, the tsunami generator will make it possible to strengthen emergency and contingency planning at regional, national and individual community level.

According to said Dr Tiziana Rossetto, EPICENTRE's Director, "We've already used the generator to mimic the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami at 1:75scale. The data gathered should be validated and then made available to the scientific community within the next two years." (ANI)

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