Can small islands protect nearby coasts from tsunamis? An active experimental design approach

To study the conditions of run-up amplification, we solve numerically the nonlinear shallow water equations. We use the simplified geometry of a conical island sitting on a flat seafloor in front of a uniform sloping beach. By doing so, the experimental set-up is defined by five physical parameters, namely the island slope, the beach slope, the water depth, the distance between the island and the plane beach and the incoming wavelength, while the wave height was kept fixed. The objective is to find the maximum run-up amplification with the least number of simulations. To achieve this goal, we build an emulator based on Gaussian Processes to guide the selection of the query points in the parameter space. We thus reduce substantially the computations required to identify the run-up amplification. Our results show that the island acts as a focusing lens for energy and amplifies the run-up along the coastline behind its lee side, instead of protecting it, as popular beliefs suggest.

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