Tsunami Hazard Assessment: Best Modeling Practices and State-of-the-Art Technology (NUREG/CR-7223)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: March 2015
Date Published: December 2016

Prepared by:
Patrick Lynett1, Yong Wei2, and Diego Arcas2

1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Southern California
224D Kaprielian Hall, Los Angeles, CA

2Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO)
University of Washington
3737 Brooklyn Ave., N.E., Seattle, WA

Prepared for:
Structural, Geotechnical and Seismic Engineering Branch
Division of Engineering
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

Rasool Anooshehpoor, NRC Project Manager

NRC Job Code: V6160

Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington DC 20555-0001

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The present work reviews relevant tsunami dynamics and some of the different mathematical models used to describe the physical processes of tsunami propagation in deep and shallow water and inundation onto dry land. This report presents a general methodology that recognizes some of the unique challenges in conducting tsunami hazard assessment for the site of a Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). These challenges relate to the fact that both the peak and minimum values of metrics computed in tsunami hazard assessments can negatively affect NPPs. For instance, the maximum estimated damage of tsunami impact for most manmade structures is generally based on peak values of specific metrics such as wave elevation, flow depth, current speed, and flow specific momentum. Particularly for a NPP, minimum values of these metrics, such as minimum wave elevation, negative (away from the shore) current speed and draw-down are equally dangerous. Conservative tsunami modeling should reflect these peculiarities and utilize parameter settings that will maximize or minimize a particular metric in order to investigate its effect on the NPP. This report makes recommendations regarding best modeling practices for tsunami impact on NPPs, and presents considerations on the most appropriate mathematical models for specific situations. Finally, the present work discusses a strategy to facilitate the identification of a Probable Maximum Tsunami (PMT) using tsunami forecast modeling tools currently in operation at the NOAA Tsunami Warning Centers and suggests a methodology for probabilistic tsunami hazard assessment.

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