The focus of the discussion will be on the complex transformation of a tsunami as it approaches very
shallow water, as well as how these possibly large and fast-moving water waves interact with coastal
infrastructure. Examples of coastal impact will be discussed and used to frame the theoretical efforts.
We will show that the strongest currents in a port are often governed by horizontally sheared and
rotational shallow flow with imbedded turbulent coherent structures. Without proper representation of the
physics associated with these phenomena, predictive models may provide drag force estimates that are an
order of magnitude or more in error. Here, we present example simulation results of a numerical
modeling study aimed at providing state and federal agencies quantitative guidance on maritime tsunami
hazards in ports and harbors. Additionally, we will introduce a set of large-scale experiments performed
at the Tsunami Wave Basin at Oregon State University as part of the National Science Foundation’s
NEES Research program. The study focuses on tsunami induced currents and seeks to define the relative
hazard in specific ports and harbors as a result of these currents.
Patrick Lynett is a Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Southern California. His research
interests are directed towards a better understanding of coastal processes, such as nearshore circulations,
wave evolution from generation to the shoreline, multi-scale hydrodynamic interactions, and sediment
transport. Investigations combine numerical modeling with both controlled experiments and field
observations. Short time-scale coastal hazards, such as hurricanes and tsunamis, are of particular interest.
Notable awards include the Department of the Army Commander's Award for Public Service given for
Dr. Lynett’s post-Katrina work, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2010, and the ASCE Walter L. Huber Civil
Engineering Research Prize in 2013.