Over the past 10 years UCL and HR Wallingford have been collaborating on the generation of tsunami in the laboratory, in order to be able to study tsunami near and onshore flows and their interactions with coastal defences and structures. The tsunami generation facility developed from this collaboration is unique worldwide and is the only device that has been shown to reproduce realistic time series for tsunami, particularly those that are trough-led. For example the Mercator time series, from the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, has been successfully modelled with the simulator at a scale of 1:50.
The design of the tsunami simulator is based on HR Wallingford's pneumatic tide generators, developed to simulate tides in large area hydraulic models. A sealed tank sits at one end of a long flume, with a submerged opening facing shorewards. A vacuum pump extracts air from the tank, drawing water from the test flume. An air control valve releases air back into the tank, generating a wave as the water flows back into the flume. Control of the position of the air valve in the top of the tank gives the desired wave shape. This form of wave generation is ideally suited to simulating tsunami as it allows the controlled movement of large volumes of water in a confined space without expensive high discharge water pumps.
As part of tsunami research being carried out at UCL EPICentre, the tsunami simulator has been used to simulate earthquake-generated tsunami in the coastal zone and to provide initial estimates of loadings on buildings behind the shoreline. Results from these experiments have allowed researchers to better quantify tsunami run-up and loading regimes on typical buildings, providing essential research input for the future up-grading of structures in areas at risk from tsunami. See the Urbanwaves and CRUST projects.
Further information on the third generation tsunami generation facilities can be seen at the following link: http://www.hrwallingford.com/facilities/tsunami-simulator-3rd-generation