Year of selection 2012
Institution Université Paris Diderot - Paris VII
Tsunamis have reminded us of their devastating power more than once in recent years. Usually the result of an earthquake rapidly deforming the ocean floor and moving a massive volume of water, the exact process that triggers such extreme waves is still not well understood. Leonardo Gordillo knows that identifying the precise mechanisms leading to a tsunami would help predict how its story will unfold.
Current predictive systems are too simple: they assume the ocean floor is flat or that the surface moves in the same way as the seabed following an earthquake. Through tsunami experiments in the lab, using a long tank of water with a moveable bottom, Dr. Gordillo was able to characterize and model the transfer of motion from the seabed to the surface, taking into account the underwater topography and seabed dynamics. This tool can now be used to add data on the local sea floor terrain to help warn of impending tsunamis, as well as predict the consequences for the threatened coastline – a significant improvement for tsunami predictions in the real world.
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