Catching the next wave of tsunami research

Adedotun Moronkeji, CE’07, is part of the next wave of tsunami research. Moronkeji spent last summer helping to create model-scale experiments at Oregon State University’s Tsunami Wave Basin, the largest facility of its type in North America.

OSU’s Tsunami Wave Basin consists of two flumes, each about 7 feet wide, with a base of natural Oregon sand. The OSU generator produces waves that, like a tsunami, have only a crest and no trough.
The concrete walls of the flumes have built-in windows, which allow researchers to observe and videotape the effects of the wave underwater.
Moronkeji, who hails from Nigeria, and a team of other students meticulously set up experimental mini-tsunamis to examine the sediment transport caused by the wave. Of particular interest to the group was the potential “liquefaction” of the soil, which occurs when a tsunami wave recedes and exerts a sudden decrease in downward pressure on the land, causing the sand to flow out as a heavy slurry.
The research into the effects of tsunamis on soil is part of a larger, National Science Foundation-funded project. Moronkeji says the goal of the research is to develop new methods of construction in coastal cities.
Moronkeji says his experiences at OSU inspired him to attend graduate school at Missouri S&T, where he is studying geotechnical engineering.
“Before working at OSU, I wasn’t thinking about grad school, but this made me see the need for research in this area,” Moronkeji says.

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