Floodplain Manager October 2018

Research shows that coastal-living Australians rate the risk of tsunami inundation far lower than other natural hazard risk such as flooding and bushfires. This is the case even though there has been significant destruction wrought by tsunamis in the Asia-Pacific region including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the recent Sulawesi tsunami. There is evidence that the Australian coast may have experienced large tsunami during the past few thousand years.

Molino Stewart has been one of the researchers highlighting the potential risks to the Australian coastline of tsunami and how to warn people of impending danger. We have done extensive research into tsunami warning and one of our staff, Dr Filippo Dall’Osso, has researched and written several articles on the impacts of tsunamis and storm surge on Sydney’s coastal development.

In this issue of Floodplain Manager we report on modelling conducted recently to assess Sydney’s tsunami risk. We also report on a review into existing and theoretical engineering solutions for preventing the impact of deadly tsunamis prompted by the Sulawesi tsunami.

In Australia, tsunami detection and warning is primarily conducted by Geoscience Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology. Geoscience Australia detects earthquakes that have the potential to generate tsunamis that can impact Australia's coastline, and advises the Bureau of Meteorology of this potential within 10 minutes of the earthquake occurring. The Bureau of Meteorology uses its network of sea level monitoring equipment and tsunami propagation models to confirm the existence of a tsunami and estimate its likely impact at the Australian coast. It then issues the relevant tsunami warnings and bulletins for Australia and external territories as required.

Although warned it is questionable what Australians will then do, particularly on a sunny summer’s day when they are at the beach. Nevertheless, emergency agencies around Australia are trying to educate people of the risk and evacuation actions to carry out in relation to a tsunami warning or observation that one is impending. The United Nations is also attempting to raise awareness around the world through its World Tsunami Awareness Day 2018 to be held on 5 November. Read more here.

Neil Dufty

Guest Editor

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