Airburst-Generated Tsunamis

Marsha Berger, Jonathan Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the questions of whether smaller asteroids that burst in the air over water can generate tsunamis that could pose a threat to distant locations. Such airburst-generated tsunamis are qualitatively different than the more frequently studied earthquake-generated tsunamis, and differ as well from tsunamis generated by asteroids that strike the ocean. Numerical simulations are presented using the shallow water equations in several settings, demonstrating very little tsunami threat from this scenario. A model problem with an explicit solution that demonstrates and explains the same phenomena found in the computations is analyzed. We discuss the question of whether compressibility and dispersion are important effects that should be included, and show results from a more sophisticated model problem using the linearized Euler equations that begins to addresses this.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1525-1543
Number of pages19
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Tsunami
  • asteroid-generated airburst
  • linearized Euler equations
  • shallow water equations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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