Press release -
World leading experts on tsunamis induced by landslides met at NGI in Oslo
Illustration 1. Laboratory model for landslides and tsunamis in Storfjorden on the Norwegian west coast, scale 1:500, at SINTEF KHL. (Photo: NGI)
More than 30 leading tsunami researchers from various parts of the world met in Oslo to discuss challenges related to tsunamis caused by subaerial and subaqueuous landslides. NGI hosted the first day and the University of Oslo the second day of the gathering, which took place late January 2015.
We received enthusiastic comments and feedback from the participants, and many have expressed their hope that this was only the beginning of a new tradition, says senior engineer at NGI, Finn Løvholt, who organized the seminar together with Carl Harbitz, also NGI, and colleagues at the University of Oslo. Both Løvholt and Harbitz hold positions as adjunct professors at the University of Oslo.
It was the first ever gathering for the world's leading researchers on tsunamis caused by landslides. NGI and the University of Oslo were proud to have attracted several of the most distinguished researchers as speakers and participants.
Tsunamies generated by earthquakes have previously received more attention, since they occur more frequently on a global scale. In addition, monitoring and early warning is easier, and the estimation of their size is less complicated.
"A large number of factors contribute to the assessment and prediction of tsunamis generated by landslides. The process involves a combination of advanced modeling, laboratory experiments, and field work, not to mention the challenge of predicting where and when a landslide will occur," says Carl Harbitz.
The seminar was devoted to different aspects of tsunamis caused by rock slides and snow avalanches in fjords and lakes, and also large submarine landslides.
Among the speakers on the first day were geologist Lars H. Blikra of the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate and Uri ten Brink from U. S. Geological Survey, talking about tsunami hazard assessment for the US east coast.
A number of historical landslides causing catastrophic tsunamis in Norwegian fjords and lakes constitute the background for the country's leading role on the subject today. The largest and best known were in Loen (1905 and 1936) and Tafjord (1934), with a total of 174 casualties. In later years, the expertise has been consulted by the offshore industry for hazard assessment related to submarine landslides on the continental slope.
Following the tsunami in the Indian Ocean 26th December 2014, the Norwegian tsunami expertise experienced a renewed global interest. The NGI researchers have contributed to several international projects.
The main purpose of the January seminar was to give experts from the global arena a possibility to come together to exchange experiences and increase their knowledge.
"We hope this will result in stronger research communities and increased benefits to society," says Finn Løvholt.
Another reason for the staging of the Oslo seminar was the finalization of a four-year research project, financed by the Research Council of Norway and conducted by the University of Oslo in cooperation with NGI. The purpose of this project was to perform laboratory experiments and develop new numerical models for the assessment of rock slide induced tsunamis in fjords. At the same time, the seminar served as the opening of another new, large research project funded by the Research Council of Norway. The project aims at developing new methods for assessment of submarine landslide dynamics and the subsequent tsunami
The Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) is a leading international centre for research and consulting within the geosciences. NGI develops optimum solutions for society, and offers expertise on the behaviour of soil, rock and snow and their interaction with the natural and built environment.
NGI works within the markets Offshore energy; Building, construction and transportation; Natural hazards, and Environmental Engineering.
NGI is a private foundation with office and laboratory in Oslo, branch office in Trondheim, and daughter companies in Houston, Texas, USA, and Perth, Western Australia. NGI was established in 1953.