Tsunami Inundation Mapping for Alaska Communities

Alaska has the greatest earthquake and tsunami potential in the entire United States. The communities of coastal Alaska occupy one of the most seismically active regions in the world, where the Pacific Plate is subducting under the North American Plate. This subduction zone, the Alaska-Aleutian megathrust, creates high tsunami hazard for the adjacent coastal areas. Historic tsunamis that were generated by earthquakes in the Alaska-Aleutian subduction zone have resulted in widespread damage and loss of life along the Alaska Pacific coast and other exposed locations around the Pacific Ocean. Large seismic events occurring in the vicinity of the Alaska Peninsula, Aleutian Islands, and Gulf of Alaska have a very high potential for generating both local and Pacific-wide tsunamis.

To help mitigate the risk these earthquakes and tsunamis pose to Alaskan coastal communities, the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys participate in the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program by evaluating and mapping potential inundation of selected parts of Alaska coastlines using numerical modeling of tsunami wave dynamics. The communities for inundation modeling are selected in coordination with the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management with consideration to tsunami hazard exposure, location, infrastructure, availability of bathymetric and topographic data, and willingness of a community to incorporate the results in a comprehensive mitigation plan.

Completed tsunami inundation mapping projects:

Chenega Bay
Elfin Cove
Kodiak area (Kodiak City, USCG base, Womens Bay)
Sawmill Bay

Tsunami inundation mapping is in progress for the following communities:

Akutan - in publication
Cold Bay - in review
Chignik - in review
Juneau - in preparation
King Cove - in review
Nikolski - in review
Sand Point - in review
Unalaska/Dutch Harbor - in publication
Yakutat - in review

Development of the regional tsunami hazard maps is in progress for the following communities:

Adak and Atka - in preparation
False Pass and Perryville - in preparation
Shemya - in preparation
Akhiok, Chiniak, Karluk, Larsen Bay, Old Harbor, Ouzinkie, Port Lions - in preparation
List of Alaska communities designated as TsunamiReady® can be found here.

Tsunami inundation map of Valdez, Alaska.

Tsunami inundation map of Sitka, Alaska.

Tsunami inundation map of Seward, Alaska.

Page created by E.Suleimani.
Updated: August 2015