Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

State Developing a Tsunami Design Zone Map

Anthony Quintano

The state is in the process of creating a high-resolution map detailing how a tsunami would affect coastal areas on O?ahu.

The state’s Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan identifies tsunamis as a hazard of high concern and a significant risk.

But, until recently, there were no national standards for designing facilities against the effects of a tsunami. In 2016, the American Society of Civil Engineers developed the first national, consensus-based standard for tsunami resilience in Hawaii and the Western states.

To improve the resilience of buildings that would be affected by tsunamis, and implement the new national standard in the state, the Office of Planning’s Coastal Zone Management Program is developing a “design zone map.”

Using computer models, and a wide range of data – the map will tell engineers and architects two things.

Ian Robertson is heading the mapping project.

Robertson says engineers will use the data to determine how to design the building, under the national standard, to handle a tsunami’s impact.

The map is not meant for evacuation purposes – but will be used to design or update critical or emergency facilities, and buildings in areas where evacuation would not be possible.

The state is planning to create these maps for the neighbor islands.

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
Related Stories