Tsunami Response in the Maldives

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Group Design Project
Design responses to tsunamigenic earthquake activity in the Maldives
Group Members
Aw Yong, Jhie Rlu, Morounkeji Oyewole, Archie Reed, Philip Steedman, Richard Vivian, Benedict Wheldon-Bayes

Professor Robert Nicholls, Dr. Sally Brown, Dr. Joel Smethurst

The Government of the Maldives, Ali Shareef - Director of Climate Change, Zammath Khaleel - Dept Director of Climate Change

The Republic of the Maldives is a low-lying island nation in the Indian Ocean which is threatened by tsunamis. Tsunamigenic earthquakes, particularly those from the Sunda Trench to the east, have the potential to cause widespread destruction and loss of life. This threat was realised when the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami struck the country. The Government of the Maldives have requested the development of common strategy to provide long term protection for its islands.

This project focused on an investigation to quantify the existing risks due to a tsunami, understand how the islands would currently respond to such an event, and to propose future mitigative solutions. This process highlighted that existing engineering solutions (used in other tsunami-prone areas such as Japan) were unsuitable due to the Maldives comprising nearly 1200 individual islands.

It was discovered that the geography of the Maldives limits tsunami waves destructive power by forcing it to behave like a flood rather than a normal wave. Flooding protection strategies were therefore adopted, with modelling approaches such as the source-pathway-receptor model helping develop a risk profile for the country.

The project also drew on previous work carried out by the University of Southampton on sea level rise, which confirmed that the tsunami risk is increasing. This research contributed to the detailed design of tsunami protection measures for the most important infrastructure lifeline, energy production, as well as wider adaptation possibilities through the development of a National Tsunami Action Plan.

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