STRONG currents from tsunamis are as much a risk to ports and shipping as the giants waves themselves, an industry expert says.

Addressing the PIANC Crisis Management seminar in Hobart, director of eCoast NZ, Jose Borrero, spoke about tsunami experiences and future mitigation, drawing upon several examples from the South Pacific.

He said the strongest currents did not always coincide with the largest waves.

“You can also have strong currents from small tsunamis and they can have a substantial impact,” he said.

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[But] in each port, you can define ‘hot spots’, you can find the areas where the strongest currents will probably be and you at least know those are the areas to be avoided or to be evacuated or to move shifts from.”

Mr Borrero said it was not enough to just look at water level fluctuations during tsunamis

“This is not sufficient. You really have got to look at the damage caused by currents and currents are not as easily modelled using any tsunami modelling you want to use or any long wave model you want to use.

“You have got to make sure that your modelling gives you the right answers.”

Mr Borrero called for “robust numerical modelling to understand the range of possible tsunami effects and to assist in the development of training and decision making tools… for marine operators”.

 The PIANC Crisis Management and Natural Disaster Response seminar was held at the Hotel Grand Chancellor.

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