Potential deployment of offshore bottom pressure gauges and adoption of data assimilation for tsunami warning system in the western Mediterranean Sea

Mohammad Heidarzadeh, Yuchen Wang, Kenji Satake, Iyan E. Mulia

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Western Mediterranean Basin (WMB) is among tsunamigenic zones with numerous historical records of tsunami damage and deaths. Most recently, a moderate tsunami on 21 May 2003 offshore Algeria, North Africa, was a fresh call for strengthening tsunami warning capabilities in this enclosed water basin. Here, we propose to deploy offshore bottom pressure gauges (OBPGs) and to adopt the framework of a tsunami data assimilation (TDA) approach for providing timely tsunami forecasts. We demonstrate the potential enhancement of the tsunami warning system through the case study of the 2003 Algeria tsunami. Four scenarios of OBPG arrangements involving 10, 5, 3 and 2 gauges are considered. The offshore gauges are located at distances of 120–300 km from the North African coast. The warning lead times are 20, 30, 48 and 55 min for four points of interest considered in this study: Ibiza, Palma, Sant Antoni and Barcelona, respectively. The forecast accuracies are in the range of 69–85% for the four OBPG scenarios revealing acceptable accuracies for tsunami warnings. We conclude that installation of OBPGs in the WMB can be helpful for providing successful and timely tsunami forecasts. We note that the OBPG scenarios proposed in this study are applicable only for the case of the 2003 Algeria tsunami. Further studies including sensitivity analyses (e.g., number of OBPG stations; earthquake magnitude, strike, epicenter) are required in order to determine OBPG arrangements that could be useful for various earthquake scenarios in the WMB.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19
JournalGeoscience Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
MH is funded by the Royal Society (Grant number CHLR1180173), the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) (Grant number JSPS/IP/19003), and The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation (Grant number 5542). YW’s work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant number JP19J20293.

Funding Information:
The tsunami observation records, used in this study, are provided by UNESCO/IOC (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission), Puertos del Estado (Spain) (http://www.puertos.es/) and the European Sea Level Service (https://www.bodc.ac.uk/projects/data_management/european/eseas/). The authors would also like to thank these organizations for making the data available to us. The GMT (Generic Mapping Tool) software (Wessel and Smith 1998) was used for drafting most of the figures.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s).


  • Earthquake
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Offshore bottom pressure gauge
  • Tsunami
  • Tsunami data assimilation
  • Tsunami warning system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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