Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Frank Muller-Karger, Ph.D.


IOCARIBE-GOOS, Tsunamigenic risk analysis, Numerical modeling, NCOM, Caribbean


A tsunami is a series of large amplitude, shallow water waves generated by an event capable of displacing a massive volume of water. The displaced water propagates at speeds in excess of 800 kph until it dissipates or impacts a shoreline where it slows to 30 --

50 kph [NOAA and USGS Fact Sheet, 2005]. Earthquakes are the predominant tsunamigenic event, however, landslides, avalanches, submarine slumps or slides, volcanic eruptions, volcano flank failure, and meteor impact into an ocean can also cause a tsunami [McCann, 2004; O'Loughlin and Lander, 2003; Pararas-Carayannis, 2004]. This study includes past Caribbean tsunamigenic events assumed to be regionally destructive and generated by earthquakes and/or massive submarine slides/slumps. The approximate study area is from 7°N, 59°W to 36°N, 98° W. Caribbean tsunami data suggests that a tsunami will occur in this region once every three years, and destructively once every 21 years [O'Loughlin and Lander, 2003]. Excluding the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, approximately 13.8% of all tsunamis and 83% of all tsunami fatalities worldwide have occurred in the Caribbean [O'Loughlin and Lander, 2003]. In the past 150 years, 2,590 victims died from tsunamis in the Caribbean. As a result of these

recorded fatalities and the rise of Caribbean population by almost 300% from 1950 to 2000 [CIAT et al., 2005], protection of human life is a primary reason for establishing a tsunami warning system in this region. The goal of this study is to identify the minimum number of sea level gauge locations to aid in tsunami detection in order to provide the most warning time to the largest number of people. This study defines which historical tsunamis were likely to have been regionally destructive, analyzes the tsunamigenic potential and population distribution of the Intra-Americas Sea (IAS), models 42 historical tsunamis with the United States Navy Coastal Ocean Model (NCOM), and recommends 12 prioritized locations for coastal sea level gauge installation. The results of this systematic approach to assess priority locations for coastal sea level gauges will assist in developing a tsunami warning system for the IAS and are currently being used by NOAA and IOCARIBE-GOOS.