JDR Vol.11 No.4 pp. 662-669
doi: 10.20965/jdr.2016.p0662


Tsunami Effects on Buildings and Coastal Structures

Harry Yeh*,† and Shinji Sato**

*Oregon State University
Corvallis, Oregon, 97331, USA

Corresponding author,

**University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

January 18, 2016
July 5, 2016
August 1, 2016
tsunamis, reinforced concrete building, seawall, coastal dyke, scour

In 2011, the Heisei Tsunami (also known as the East Japan Tsunami) caused unprecedented damage to well-engineered buildings and coastal structures. We examine two reinforced concrete buildings that were exposed to similar tsunami loadings, but one collapsed and the other did not. It is shown that the contrast is partly resulted from the presence of a building foundation that could cause a time delay and attenuation of the buoyancy effect on the buildings. The surviving building must be stabilized by the weight of water that flooded the building interior. We also investigate failure patterns of concrete seawalls and coastal dykes. It is demonstrated that flow-induced suction pressures on the crown play a role in the failure of concrete panels that covered the dyke’s infill. High-speed flows together with high compressing pressures can cause the formation of a scour at the leeside foot of the dyke. Considerations for the design guidelines for buildings and coastal structures to cope with the “beyond-the-design-basis” extreme coastal hazards are proposed.

Cite this article as:
H. Yeh and S. Sato, “Tsunami Effects on Buildings and Coastal Structures,” J. Disaster Res., Vol.11, No.4, pp. 662-669, 2016.
Data files:
  1. [1] The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake Tsunami Joint Survey Group, available online:
  2. [2] H. Yeh, S. Sato and Y. Tajima, “The 11 March 2011 East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: Tsunami Effects on Coastal Infrastructure and Buildings,” Pure Appl. Geophys., Vol.170, pp. 1019-1031, 2013.
  3. [3] N. Shuto, “Building damages due to the Hokkaido Nansei-Oki Earthquake and Tsunami,” Tsunami, 1994.
  4. [4] H. Yeh, “Design tsunami forces for onshore structures,” J. Disaster Research, Vol.2. pp. 531-536, 2007.
  5. [5] H. Arnason, C. Petroff, and H. Yeh, “Tsunami bore impingement onto a vertical column,” J. Disaster Research, Vol.4, No.2, pp. 391-403, 2009.
  6. [6] K. Terzaghi, “Theoretical Soil Mechanics,” John Wiley and Sons, 1943.
  7. [7] H. Yeh, S. Tonkin, E. Heller, P. Arduino, F. Kato, and S. Sato, “Mechanisms of scour induced by tsunami runup,” Proc. of Second Int. Conf. on SCOUR and EROSION, Singapore, Vol.2, pp. 464-471, 2004.
  8. [8] S. Koshimura and S. Hayashi, “Tsunami flow measurement using the video recorded during the 2011 Tohoku tsunami attack,” Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), 2012 IEEE Int., pp. 6693-6696, 2012.
  9. [9] H. Nakao, S. Sato, and H. Yeh, “Laboratory study on destruction mechanisms of coastal dyke due to overflowing tsunami,” Doboku Gakkai Ronbunshu, Vol.68, No.2, pp. I_281-I_285, 2012.
  10. [10] S. Hatogai, Y. Suwa, and F. Kato, “Hydraulic model experiments on scour landward of the coastal dike induced by tsunami overflow,” Doboku Gakkai Ronbunshu, Vol.68, No.2, pp. I_406-I_410, 2012.
  11. [11] F. Kato, Y. Suwa, K. Watanabe, and S. Hatogai, “Mechanisms of coastal dike failure induced by the Great East Japan Earthquake Tsunami,” Proc. 33rd Conf. Coastal Engrg., 2012.
  12. [12] J. Kim, H. Yeh, S. Kim, and M. Choi, “Estimation of overflow-induced pressure and velocity on a mound-type sea dike,” J. Korean Geo-Env. Soc., Vol.16, No.3, pp. 5-13, 2015.
  13. [13] F. M. Henderson, “Open Channel Flow,” p. 522, Macmillan, 1966. vfil

*This site is desgined based on HTML5 and CSS3 for modern browsers, e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, IE9,10,11, Opera.

Last updated on Feb. 20, 2019