March 8, 2005

"Understanding Tsunamis"

Eric Geist

Research Geophysicist
U.S. Geological Survey

The magnitude 9.0 Sumatra earthquake that occurred on December 26, 2004 was the largest earthquake in the past 40 years.  This earthquake also generated the most devastating tsunami in recorded history in terms of loss of life.  In this context and using innovative satellite data collected 2 hours after the Sumatra tsunami was generated, Eric Geist will explain how specialists explore the mechanism by which an earthquake rupture along a fault leads to the generation of tsunamis as well as how tsunami waves evolve and impact land.  He will show how a computational fluid dynamic model for the tsunami is constructed and results are compared with instrumental observations of the tsunamis.  The discussion will address several unresolved issues regarding this event and ideas for new research and hazard mitigation efforts.  

Eric Geist has authored over 120 journal articles and abstracts, including a review paper on tsunamis published in the book "Tsunamigenic Earthquakes and their Consequences."  Eric received his MS degree in Geophysics from Stanford University and a BS degree in Geophysics from the Colorado School of Mines.