Tsunami damage to ports: cataloguing damage to create fragility functions from the 2011 Tohoku event

Publication type

Journal Article

Research Area



Modern tsunami events have highlighted the vulnerability of port structures to these high-impact but infrequent occurrences. However, port planning rarely includes adaptation measures to address tsunami hazards. The 2011 Tohoku tsunami presented us with an opportunity to characterise the vulnerability of port industries to tsunami impacts. Here, we provide a spatial assessment and photographic interpretation of freely available data sources. Approximately 5000 port structures were assessed for damage and stored in a database. Using the newly developed damage database, tsunami damage is quantified statistically for the first time, through the development of damage fragility functions for eight common port industries. In contrast to tsunami damage fragility functions produced for buildings from an existing damage database, our fragility functions showed higher prediction accuracies (up to 75 % accuracy). Pre-tsunami earthquake damage was also assessed in this study and was found to influence overall damage assessment. The damage database and fragility functions for port industries can inform structural improvements and mitigation plans for ports against future events.

Publication Details


Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences





Date Published


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