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The 2007 Tsunami Sedimentology Seminar


In order to make progress in tsunami sedimentology, we want to gather those who have thought specifically about tsunami sediment transport and other sedimentological aspects of tsunamis and their deposits [and erosional features], or related deposits.  We will be asking you to [attempt to] treat one or two simple benchmark sets of data, as well as to present some of your own case histories.  The focus will be on coastal plain/estuarine settings, rather than offshore.

Among fundamental questions we would like to answer from tsunami deposits are:

  • How big was the wave?
  • What was the water depth?
  • Can we tell if there was a bore?
  • Can we determine the slope[s] of the water surface?
  • How fast was the water flowing?
  • How many waves were there?
  • Is there evidence for reversals in transport [e.g., reflected waves?]
  • What else can a deposit tell us? [e.g., can it tell us about wavelength or period?]

To answer these questions, we want to ask:

  • What are different approaches to the problem, their strengths and drawbacks?
  • Do different approaches work [better] to answer certain [different] questions?
  • What assumptions need to be made to answer the questions? [e.g., is the deposit suspended load, can we assume quasi-steady, uniform flow,.]
  • How do vegetation and other roughness elements affect the flow and the deposit?<
  • How does thickness of a deposit vary, and why? What are effects of topography?
  • What can deposit geometry and internal structure[s] tell us?
  • What can vertical and lateral trends in grading and sorting tell us?
  • What are recommended sampling strategies?
  • What are recommended methods of [grain size] analyses?
  • Where are the best places to sample/study deposits in order to answer these questions? [e.g., lakes are good for recurrence intervals, but not so good for hydrodyanmics]
  • What are the similarities and differences among deposits of tsunamis, storms, floods and turbidity currents?


  • What are the paths forward?
  • Can/should we set up more benchmarks?
  • What experiments would we like to see?
  • What are recommended means of training more students and young scientists to move us forward?


Logistical Details

When: April 30 - May 3

Where: UW's Friday Harbor Laboratories on San Juan Island, north of Seattle

Housing and Catering: Housing will be dorm rooms and small cabins at Friday Harbor labs and catered food will be provided.

Arriving at Friday Harbor: We will depart from the University of Washington in Seattle for the Anacortes ferry terminal in mini-vans early on Monday morning 30 April.

Departing Friday Harbor: We will depart from Friday Harbor on the morning of Thursday May 3 and arrive in Seattle in the early afternoon.


Recommended Readings and Websites

Bondevik, S., Svendensen, J., Mangerud, J., (1997) Tsunami sedimentary facies deposited by the Storegga tsunami in shallow marine basins and coastal lakes, western Norway. Sedimentology, 44, 1115-1131.

Gelfenbaum, G., Jaffe, B., (2003) Erosion and Sedimentation from the 17 July, 1998 Papua new Guinea Tsunami. Pure appl. Geophys, 160, 1969-1999.

Moore, A., Nishimura, Y., Gelfenbaum, G., Kamataki, T., Triyono, R., (2006) sedimentary deposits of the 26 December 2004 tsunami on the northwest coast of Aceh, Indonesia, Earth Plants Space, 58, 253-258.

Higman, B., Bourgeois, J., (in press) Deposits of the 1992 Nicaragua Tsunami 

Jaffe, B., Gelfenbaum, G., (in press) A simple model for calculation tsunami flow speed from tsunami deposits, Sedimentary Geology

Morton, R., Gelfenbaum, G., Jaffe, B., (in press)  Physical criteria for distinguishing sandy tsunami and storm deposits using modern examples

Daily reports the field team in Sumatra studying the 28 March 2005 and 26 December tsunamis and earthquakes

The 26 December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami: Initial Findings from Sumatra Based on Survey Conducted January 20-29, 2005

Based on Survey Conducted January 20-29, 2005>

The December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami: Initial Findings on Tsunami Sand Deposits, Damage, and Inundation in Sri Lanka Based on Survey Conducted January 9-15, 2005

Field Study of Tsunami Deposits formed during the 2001 Peru Tsunami: Based on Survey Conducted September 4-18, 2001

Field Study of Tsunami Deposits formed during the 1998 Papua New Guinea Tsunami: Based on Survey Conducted September 29 to October 7, 1998

U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 03-13 Cascadia Tsunami Deposit Database. Peters, B., Jaffe, B., Gelfenbaum, G. and Peterson, C., 2003, Cascadia tsunami deposit database: U. S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 03-13, 19 p. plus electronic database and GIS coverage