NERC project (Geometrical effects on landslide-tsunamis)


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Home     Students     Wave energy conversion     Landslide-tsunamis     NERC project     Scale effects     Ski jump hydraulics     Further research    Downloads     Publications

Personal research website of Dr Valentin Heller

Physical model tests

The numerical simulations were conducted with the recently released open source code DualSPHysics, which is based on the Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics SPH method. The simulations in Fig. 5 were calibrated and validated with the high quality 2D and 3D laboratory data and intermediate water body geometries between 2D and 3D were then purely numerically investigated. This gave further physical insight into the effect of the water body geometry and investigated the potential of open source codes for landslide-tsunami hazard assessment. The results are published in Heller et al. (2016).

Selected publications


Heller, V., Bruggemann, M., Spinneken, J., and Rogers, B. (2016). Composite modelling of subaerial landslide-tsunamis in different water body geometries and novel insight into slide and wave kinematics. Coastal Engineering 109(3):20-41 (

Heller, V., Spinneken, J. (2015). On the effect of the water body geometry on landslide-tsunamis: Physical insight from laboratory tests and 2D to 3D wave parameter transformation. Coastal Engineering 104(10):113-134 (

Heller, V., Spinneken, J. (2013). Improved landslide-tsunami predictions: effects of block model parameters and slide model. Journal of Geophysical Research-Ocean 118(3):1489-1507 (

Heller, V., Moalemi, M., Kinnear R.D., Adams, R.A. (2012). Geometrical effects on landslide-generated tsunamis. Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal and Ocean Engineering 138(4):286-298 (


Heller, V., Rogers, B. (2015). Subaerial landslide-tsunami generation with a rigid slide in a channel (2D) and basin (3D). SPH benchmark test case 11, online publication, SPH European Research Interest Community SPHERIC website (online

Fig. 3. Comparison of relative water surface elevations h/h versus relative time t(g/h)1/2 along the slide axis in 2D at x/h = 3.0 and 22.5 (a,c) and in 3D at r/h = 3.0 and 22.5 (b,d); note the increased scale on the ordinate in (d)

This NERC funded research (NERC NE/000578/1) concerned the detailed investigation of the effect of the water body geometry on landslide-tsunami features and significantly improved the reliability of landslide-tsunami (impulse wave) prediction. The project involved the composite modelling approach (physical and numerical model tests combined) and successfully addressed the following two main objectives:

(a) to obtain a set of generic empirical formulae including the effect of the water body geometry and

(b) to provide high quality experimental benchmark test cases for numerical simulations.

Fig. 1. Series of images of slide impact and tsunami generation in a 20 m x 12 m large wave basin (3D); the time interval from (b) onwards is 0.2 s

Fig. 2. Drawing of a rigid slide with integrated force sensors and a total mass of 83 kg

Fig. 5. This test in the wave flume (2D) geometry was conducted with DualSPHysics

Fig. 6. Dr Fuchs, ETH Zurich, presents his work at the short course in Chengdu, China

High quality physical model tests in the two most common water body geometries (i) wave flume (2D) and (ii) wave basin (3D, Figure 1) were conducted. The tests included a unique combination of measurements such as forces on the slide front (Figure 2), which were measured for the first time and are important to calibrate/validate numerical simulations in coastal engineering or marine renewable energy applications. The 3D waves were up to a factor of 17 smaller than 2D waves. This point is illustrated in Figure 3 showing the water surface displacement due to a rigid slide impacting into 2D (a,c) and 3D (b,d). Note that the scale on the ordinate in Figure 3(d) is increased by a factor of 10. New empirical equations for the prediction of 3D landslide-tsunamis were derived and a novel method to transform tsunamis measured in 2D to 3D was introduced. Figure 4 shows as an example the diagram used to transform the wave amplitude. This directly increases the reliability of landslide-tsunami hazard assessment in fjords, lakes, reservoirs and the sea.

Numerical model tests

Dissemination of results

Fig. 4. 2D to 3D wave parameter transformation: wave amplitude ratio a3D,1/a2D,1 versus a product of the relative distance (r/h) and the slide impact characteristics given by F, S and M; the results are compared with the small-scale pre-study Heller et al. (2012)

The results and high quality benchmark cases are currently widely disseminated in the form of peer-review articles including Heller et al. (2016) and Heller and Spinneken (2015), on webpages and at a conference. A short course about landslide generated impulse waves, including some results of the present work, was hold at the IAHR World Congress in Chengdu in collaboration with ETH Zurich and The University of Manchester. Figure 6 shows one of the guest lecturers and some of the participants of this short course. Further, a benchmark case test has been published on the SPHERIC website (Heller and Rogers 2015).

Last modified: 24.04.2017