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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-332
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-332
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 16 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 16 Oct 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

Assessing Transportation Vulnerability to Tsunamis: Utilising Post-event Field Data from the 2011 Tohoku Tsunami, Japan, and the 2015 Illapel Tsunami, Chile

James H. Williams1, Thomas M. Wilson1, Nick Horspool2, Ryan Paulik3, Liam Wotherspoon4, Emily M. Lane5, and Matthew W. Hughes6 James H. Williams et al.
  • 1Department of Geological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, 8041, New Zealand
  • 2GNS Science, Lower Hutt, 5040, New Zealand
  • 3National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Wellington, New Zealand
  • 4Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  • 5National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • 6Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, 8041, New Zealand

Abstract. Transportation infrastructure is crucial to the operation of society, particularly during post-event response and recovery. Transportation assets, such as roads and bridges, can be exposed to tsunami impacts when near the coast. Using fragility functions in an impact assessment identifies potential tsunami effects to inform decisions on potential mitigation strategies. Such functions have not been available for transportation assets in the past due to limited empirical datasets. This study develops fragility functions for roads and bridges through combined survey and remotely sensed data for the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, Japan and using post-event field survey data from the 2015 Illapel Earthquake and Tsunami, Chile. The fragility functions show a trend of lower tsunami vulnerability (through lower probabilities of reaching or exceeding a given damage level) for road use categories of potentially higher construction standards. Topographic setting is also shown to affect the vulnerability of transportation assets in a tsunami with coastal plains seeing higher initial vulnerability (e.g. up to 5 m inundation depth), but coastal valleys exceeding the maximum vulnerability of roads on coastal plains (exceeding 30 m inundation depth). This study represents the first peer-reviewed example of empirical road and bridge fragility functions that consider a range of damage levels. This suite of synthesised functions is applicable to a variety of exposure and attribute types for use in global tsunami impact assessments, to inform resilience and mitigation strategies.

James H. Williams et al.
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Status: open (until 11 Dec 2019)
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Short summary
Post-event field survey data from two tsunami events, the 2011 Tohoku Tsunami, Japan, and the 2015 Illapel Tsunami, Chile, are used in this study to develop fragility functions for roads and bridges. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of supplementing post-event field surveys with remotely sensed data. The resulting fragility functions address a considerable research gap in tsunami impacts on infrastructure, and include a range of subtleties in asset and hazard characteristics.
Post-event field survey data from two tsunami events, the 2011 Tohoku Tsunami, Japan, and the...
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