Analog Model Setup

Wave Tank Analog Experiment

      This analog experiment consisted of the recreation of tsunami waves generated by landslides that occur above sea level.  The primary focus of these tests was modeled after the Lituya Bay, Alaska tsunami which was generated by a large displacement of mass into the bay from an earthquake just off shore.  The wave tank is made of plexiglass with a slide that can be removed quickly to allow a mass to enter the system very quickly and efficiently.

Fig.1 Tsunami Wave Tank


        Figure 1 displays the dimensions of the wave tank used to create tsunami-like waves.  The tank was set on a three degree incline to simulate the run-up of a shoreline, which generally are at low angles until reaching the end of the continental shelf and then dealing with shoreline run-up.  This particular experiment is derived to simulate a wave just before it would run-up the side of steep wall, as in Lituya Bay
       The experiment consisted of putting varying amounts of water behind the plexiglass slide labeled "wave generating slide" in figure 1.  These water amounts are intended to simulate a mass influx into a static system, similar to that of Lituya Bay.  A measure was taken of volumes in cubic centimeters.  The wave generating slide was then quickly pulled out allowing a rapid displacement of the water column, as in Figures 2 and 3.  This created a wave similar to those in Lituya Bay as the wave had minimal time to grow much larger than the initial wave before crashing to the shoreline directly across from where the wave propagated from, as in Figure 3.  Figure 3 also shows the dimensions of the landslide area and distance the wave crossed before running up the slope adjacent to it.

                                                                   Fig. 2 Removal of Wave Slide                                                              Fig 3 Dimensions of Lituya Bay.  (

           Once a wave was generated, video capture allowed for analysis of wave formation and maximum amplitude with relation to the amount of mass introduced into the system shown Figure 4 and video in the model results section.  The amounts of mass introduced into the system varied from 1787.5 cubic centimeters to 3287.5 cubic centimeters on increments of 500 cubic centimeters.  These amounts of mass introduced are designed to understand the wave dynamics in the case of Lituya Bay, as well as developing an idea of how a wave dynamics change with varying mass influx into a system.
                                                        Fig. 4 Wave generated in the tank                                                       View of wave destruction  (

Natural History
Model Results
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