Logo: University of Southern California

MEDIA ADVISORY - March 24, 2014: USC Experts Available to Speak About Tsunami Preparedness Week

Press Release
CONTACT: Megan Hazle - 213-821-1887 or hazle@usc.edu
March 24, 2014 —


March 23 - 29 marks National Tsunami Preparedness Week, which this year also is timed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Good Friday Earthquake and subsequent tsunamis.

On March 27, 1964 a 9.2-magnitued earthquake -- the most powerful in U.S. history -- struck southern Alaska and produced destructive tsunamis that have been blamed for most of the 131 deaths caused by the disaster.

USC -- located in a major city perched along the coast -- has several experts available to speak to reporters about tsunami preparedness and tsunami science.


Patrick Lynett is an associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

Lynett is an expert in hurricane and tsunami impacts along coastal areas, in particular how these waves effect coastal infrastructure. Recently, he has worked with state and federal officials to study tsunami-induced currents in ports and harbors.

"The most common tsunamis are those that are small in height and do not necessarily lead to significant flooding,” Lynett says. “However, even these small tsunamis can, and have, caused many millions of dollars of damage in ports and harbors. This damage is caused by the fast moving water associated with a tsunami, and not the vertical rise and fall of the water.”

The objective of Lynett’s research is to provide accurate information about tsunami currents for integration into harbor hazard maps, which should then be used for planning and mitigation.

He can be reached at (213) 740-3133 or lynett@usc.edu.

NOTE: Lynett will be among the speakers tonight (3/24) at a multi-agency press event to discuss Southern California's tsunami threat. The event will be held at the Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way in Long Beach, starting at 5 p.m. For more details about the event, reporters may contact Marilyn Padilla at (562) 951-1684 or mpadilla@lbaop.org.


Jiin-Jen Lee is director of the Foundation for Cross-Connection Control and Hydraulic Research and a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at USC Viterbi.

Lee can explain how tsunami waves are generated, propagated through the ocean, and how the waves are modified and amplified in the coastal zones. Tsunamis (Japanese name for waves in harbors) can have many different impacts in the coastal region depending upon the topography and the layout of the coastal and harbor basins. He has studied the coastal effects of tsunamis throughout the Pacific Rim.

“Harbors can create a resonance effect,” Lee says. “Depending on the harbor shape and topography, some areas might experience an amplification of the tsunami while others are protected.”

Lee can be reached at (213) 740-7865 or jjlee@usc.edu.


Jose Borrero is an adjunct assistant research professor at the USC Viterbi Tsunami Research Center.

He is currently in New Zealand working on tsunami hazard mitigation and preparedness projects for local and national level government agencies. In particular, his work focuses on assessing maritime tsunami hazards at ports and harbors.

"Like California, New Zealand's maritime infrastructure has grown significantly since the last set of major trans-oceanic tsunamis in the 1960's," Borrero says. "Tsunami have not been a primary consideration in the design and expansion of these facilities making them more vulnerable to such events, particularly from South America. If a Japan-like earthquake occurred in northern Chile today, some of New Zealand's ports would end up Like Crescent City did in 2011."

Borrero can be reached by email at jborrero@usc.edu or phone at (64) 21 343 717.


About the USC Viterbi School of Engineering
Engineering Studies began at the University of Southern California in 1905. Nearly a century later, the Viterbi School of Engineering received a naming gift in 2004 from alumnus Andrew J. Viterbi, inventor of the Viterbi algorithm now key to cell phone technology and numerous data applications. Consistently ranked among the top graduate programs in the world, the school enrolls more than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students, taught by 174 tenured and tenure-track faculty, with 60 endowed chairs and professorships. http://viterbi.usc.edu

Megan Hazle - 213-821-1887 or hazle@usc.edu