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Effects of coastal submarine canyons on tsunami propagation and impact
Iglesias, Olaia; Lastras Membrive, Galderic; Souto, C.; Costa, Sergio; Canals Artigas, Miquel
Universitat de Barcelona
We analyse the variations produced on tsunami propagation and impact over a straight coastline because of the presence of a submarine canyon incised in the continental margin. For ease of calculation we assume that the shoreline and the shelf edge are parallel and that the incident wave approaches them normally. A total of 512 synthetic scenarios have been computed by combining the bathymetry of a continental margin incised by a parameterised single canyon and the incident tsunami waves. The margin bathymetry, the canyon and the tsunami waves have been generated using mathematical functions (e.g. Gaussian). Canyon parameters analysed are: (i) incision length into the continental shelf, which for a constant shelf width relates directly to the distance from the canyon head to the coast, (ii) canyon width, and (iii) canyon orientation with respect to the shoreline. Tsunami wave parameters considered are period and sign. The COMCOT tsunami model from Cornell University was applied to propagate the waves across the synthetic bathymetric surfaces. Five simulations of tsunami propagation over a non-canyoned margin were also performed for reference. The analysis of the results reveals a strong variation of tsunami arrival times and amplitudes reaching the coastline when a tsunami wave travels over a submarine canyon, with changing maximum height location and alongshore extension. In general, the presence of a submarine canyon lowers the arrival time to the shoreline but prevents wave build-up just over the canyon axis. This leads to a decrease in tsunami amplitude at the coastal stretch located just shoreward of the canyon head, which results in a lower run-up in comparison with a non-canyoned margin. Contrarily, an increased wave build-up occurs on both sides of the canyon head, generating two coastal stretches with an enhanced run-up. These aggravated or reduced tsunami effects are modified with (i) proximity of the canyon tip to the coast, amplifying the wave height, (ii) canyon width, enlarging the areas with lower and higher maximum height wave along the coastline, and (iii) canyon obliquity with respect to the shoreline and shelf edge, increasing wave height shoreward of the leeward flank of the canyon. Moreover, the presence of a submarine canyon near the coast produces a variation of wave energy along the shore, eventually resulting in edge waves shoreward of the canyon head. Edge waves subsequently spread out alongshore reaching significant amplitudes especially when coupling with tsunami secondary waves occurs. Model results have been groundtruthed using the actual bathymetry of Blanes Canyon area in the North Catalan margin. This paper underlines the effects of the presence, morphology and orientation of submarine canyons as a determining factor on tsunami propagation and impact, which could prevail over other effects deriving from coastal configuration.
Valls submarines
Submarine valleys
(c) Elsevier B.V., 2014
Elsevier B.V.

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