New West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (WCATWC) response criteria for earthquakes occurring in the Pacific basin are presented. Initial warning decisions are based on earthquake location, magnitude, depth, and - dependent on magnitude - either distance from source or precomputed threat estimates generated from tsunami models. The new criteria will help limit the geographical extent of warnings and advisories to threatened regions, and complement the new operational tsunami product suite. Changes to the previous criteria include: adding hypocentral depth dependence, reducing geographical warning extent for the lower magnitude ranges, setting special criteria for areas not well-connected to the open ocean, basing warning extent on pre-computed threat levels versus tsunami travel time for very large events, including the new advisory product, using the advisory product for far-offshore events in the lower magnitude ranges, and specifying distances from the coast for on-shore events which may be tsunamigenic. This report sets a baseline for response criteria used by the WCATWC considering its processing and observational data capabilities as well as its organizational requirements. Criteria are set for tsunamis generated by earthquakes, which are by far the main cause of tsunami generation (either directly through sea floor displacement or indirectly by triggering of slumps). As further research and development provides better tsunami source definition, observational data streams, and improved analysis tools, the criteria will continue to adjust. Future lines of research and development capable of providing operational tsunami warning centers with better tools are discussed.
Additional publication details
NOAA/West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center Pacific Ocean response criteria