Paper No. 290-10
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM
ASTEROID-GENERATED TSUNAMI (Invited Presentation)
The effort to prevent or mitigate the effects of an impact on Earth is known as planetary defense. A significant component of planetary defense research involves risk assessment. Much of our understanding of the risk from near-Earth objects comes from the geologic record in the form of impact craters, but not all asteroid impacts are crater-forming events. Small asteroids explode before reaching the surface, generating an airburst, and most impacts into the ocean do not penetrate the water to form a crater in the sea floor. The risk from these non-crater-forming ocean impacts and airbursts is difficult to quantify and represents a significant uncertainty in our assessment of the overall threat. We are currently working to better understand impact scenarios that can generate dangerous tsunami. This research has taken on added significance because NASA’s newly-formed Planetary Defense Coordinating Office has created a new Science Definition Team whose purpose is to update the results of a 2003 study on which our current planetary defense policy is based.
We have formed a collaboration to address this question on many fronts, including asteroid entry modeling, tsunami generation and propagation simulations, modeling of coastal run-ups, inundation, and consequences, infrastructure damage estimates, and physics-based probabilistic impact risk assessment. We also organized the Second International Workshop on Asteroid Threat Assessment, focused on asteroid-generated tsunami and associated risk (Aug. 23-24, 2016). We will summarize our progress and present the highlights of our workshop, emphasizing its relevance to earth and planetary science.