On March 11 one of the costliest natural disasters in history occurred when Japan’s northeast coast was struck by a tsunami. After this disaster world scientists have been working to improve tsunami detection and assessment.

However before the tsunami ever hit Japan researchers at the Texas A&M University at Galveston Maritime Systems Engineering Department were working to understand the behavior and forecast the occurrence and magnitude of tsunamis.

Beginning today the university will host two tsunami workshops with world-renowned tsunami experts presenting their research.

The forums are sponsored by the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program a work group within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The program was created by the U.S. Congress in 1995 to minimize the impact of tsunamis upon human life and property through hazard assessment warning guidance and mitigation.

Specific goals of the workshop bring national and international experts together to address landslide-induced tsunamis such as those which have occurred in the Gulf of Mexico.

Experts participating in the workshops are researchers who use physics mathematics and computer models to create virtual tsunamis.

These virtual models are designed to study and predict the impact of real tsunamis.

The first forum focuses on mapping and modeling tsunamis. It is from 8 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. today through Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon Friday. This workshop will take place on the third floor of the Oceans and Coastal Sciences Building (OSCB 3029).

The second workshop addresses the behavior of underwater landslides related to tsunami production such as those recorded in the Gulf of Mexico. This workshop is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. It will take place in Room 141 in the OSCB 3029 building.

Access for parking for both workshops will be in the Sea Aggie Center parking area near the Sea Aggie Building 3026.

Vijay Panchang Ph.D. PE and Maritime Systems Engineering Department Head at Texas A&M University at Galveston said the workshop will be the “epicenter” for science related to tsunamis.

“The top tsunami experts in the world will gather here in Galveston to discuss the best techniques for modeling tsunami propagation and how we can improve the accuracy of tsunami predictions such as arrival time wave height and flooding” Panchang said.

Representing the Gulf of Mexico region at the workshop Dr. Juan Horrillo TAMUG tsunami expert and assistant professor at TAMUG’s Maritime Systems Engineering Department said mathematical modeling is critical to tsunami disaster planning and response.

“The first step in mitigating a tsunami is to understand how it works” he said. “With mathematical models we can show how the wave energy propagates in the ocean and how geological movements affect wave patterns. We study the dynamics between the ocean and coastal morphology to determine impact upon human life and property.”

The National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program workshop is expected to raise tsunami awareness and develop more accurate maps and models that can be used to improve warning guidance and evacuation maps.

For information about the workshop contact Horrillo at 409-740-4465 or horrillj@tamug.edu.

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