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Experimental Verification of FEMA P646 Tsunami Loading

Panitan Lukkunaprasit*, Nuttawut Thanasisathit*, and Harry Yeh**

*Department of Civil Engineering, Chulalongkorn University
Phayathai Road, 10330, Bangkok, Thailand
**School of Civil and Construction Engineering, Oregon State University, 220 Owen Hall, Corvallis, Oregon 97331-3212, USA

Received: June 24, 2009

Accepted: September 4, 2009

Keywords: tsunami, building, experiment, surge force, guidelines, drag force

Journal ref: Journal of Disaster Research, Vol.4, No.6 pp. 45-53, 2009


The 2004 catastrophe of the Indian Ocean tsunami prompted scientists and engineers to develop better guidelines for economically designed essential buildings that are capable of withstanding tsunami forces. A recent design guidelines document – FEMA P646 [1] published by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – proposes a practical method to estimate the tsunami design forces at a given locality with a known maximum tsunami runup height. This paper focuses on verifying the method stipulated in FEMA P646 through laboratory experiments, assuming the beach condition similar to Kamala beach in Phuket, Thailand, which suffered great losses by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Our experimental results confirm that the predicted forces provide a reasonable upper bound for the measured forces.
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