Assessment of the effectiveness of general breakwaters in reducing Tsunami inundation in Ishinomaki

Hiroshi Takagi, Jeremy D. Bricker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami caused devastation all along the coast of eastern Japan. Ishinomaki City was one of the most severely damaged municipalities, though the height of the tsunami in this city was smaller than that in Iwate and northern Miyagi. A large difference in the extent of building damage was found comparing two areas of Ishinomaki: one not protected by breakwaters, and the other behind the breakwaters of a large Fishery port. In this paper, the authors perform numerical simulations to determine whether these general breakwaters, which were designed not to block tsunamis but wind waves, reduced the tsunami's energy and contributed to a reduction in inundation of the areas behind the port. Before assessing the effectiveness of breakwaters against tsunamis, simulated inundation heights in each of these two areas were compared with heights measured by The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake Tsunami Joint Survey Group. It was found that a simulation with larger Manning's n value (n = 0.30) can evaluate inundation more precisely than when this value is small (n = 0.06), as often used by Japanese coastal engineers. Comparing the region protected by breakwaters with the unsheltered area, the results of a 2D shallow water equation model do not show a significant difference in inundation mainly because the tsunami intrudes through the openings in the breakwater and fills up the port basin with seawater in a very short time. Therefore, the effectiveness of general breakwaters in reducing tsunami impact should not be overestimated. However, a hypothetical study shows that water levels could be greatly reduced if the port were fully enclosed by breakwaters. This implies that a port could substantially reduce tsunami inundation if the breakwater openings were equipped to be closed before tsunami arrival. The authors also demonstrate that the difference in the extent of building damage in the two areas of Ishinomaki considered can be explained by the difference in drag forces due to the topography as well as the difference in land use, rather than by the presence of breakwaters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1450018
JournalCoastal Engineering Journal
Volume56
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Dec 16

Keywords

  • 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami
  • Tsunami
  • breakwater
  • building damage
  • drag force
  • numerical simulation
  • port

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Ocean Engineering

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