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The 11 March 2011 Tohoku Tsunami Wavefront Mapping Across Offshore Southern California

The 11 March 211 (M_w = 9.) Tohoku tsunami was recorded by a temporary array of seafloor pressure gauges deployed off the coast of Southern California, demonstrating how dense array data can illustrate and empirically validate predictions of linear tsunami wave propagation characteristics. A noise cross-correlation method was used to first correct for the pressure gauge instrument phase response. Phase and group travel times were then measured for the first arrival in the pressure gauge tsunami waveforms filtered in narrow bands around 3 periods between 2 and 3 s. For each period, phase velocities were estimated across the pressure gauge array based on the phase travel time gradient using eikonal tomography. Clear correlation was observed between the phase velocity and long-wavelength bathymetry variations where fast and slow velocities occurred for deep and shallow water regions, respectively. In particular, velocity gradients are pronounced at the Patton Escarpment and near island plateaus due to the abrupt bathymetry change. In the deep open ocean area, clear phase velocity dispersion is observed. Comparison with numerically calculated tsunami waveforms validates the approach and provides an independent measure of the finite-frequency effect on phase velocities at long periods.

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