High-resolution coastal hazard assessment along the French Riviera from co-seismic tsunamis generated in the Ligurian fault system

Research paper by Fatemeh Nemati, Stephan T. Grilli; Mansour Ioualalen; Laurie Boschetti; Christophe Larroque; Jenny Trevisan

Indexed on: 21 Dec '18Published on: 15 Dec '18Published in: Natural hazards (Dordrecht, Netherlands)


The French Riviera is a densely populated and touristic coast. It is also one of the most seismically active areas of the Western Mediterranean. This is evidenced by the M w 6.7–6.9, 1887 earthquake and tsunami, that was triggered nearshore, rupturing the easternmost 40 km of the 80-km-long Ligurian fault system, which runs parallel to and offshore of the Riviera. Here, coastal hazard from co-seismic tsunamis is assessed along the French and part of the Italian Riviera by simulating three Ligurian earthquake scenarios: (1) the 1887 event offshore Genoa, Italy; (2) a similar event transposed to the westernmost 40-km segment of the fault, offshore Nice, France; and (3) the rupture of the entire 80-km fault, which constitutes an extreme case scenario for the region. Simulations of tsunami propagation and coastal impact are performed by one-way coupling with the Boussinesq model FUNWAVE-TVD, in a series of nested grids, using new high-resolution bathymetric and topographic data. Results obtained in 10-m coastal grids provide the highest resolution predictions to date for this section of the French Riviera of co-seismic tsunami coastal hazard, in terms of inundation, runup, and current velocity. In general, the most impacted areas are bays (near Cap d’Antibes and Cap Ferrat), due to wave buildup and shoaling within semi-enclosed shallow areas, enhanced by possible resonances. In contrast to earlier work, which was based on coarser resolution grids, the area of Nice harbor is found to be rather well sheltered. It should be noted that uniform fault slip was used in the ruptures and runup estimates could locally be enhanced in case of more complex ruptures, such as segmented and heterogeneous ruptures.