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Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

Tsunami and Earthquake Research

Pre-tsunami Japan: April 2010

The 3rd International Tsunami Field Symposium was held during April, 2010 in Japan and hosted by scientists at Tohoku University in Sendai. Japanese scientists led field trips in the regions of Sendai, Sanriku, and Okinawa (Ishigaki Island). Field trips combined visits to areas containing tsunami deposits, memorials from previous tsunamis, and excursions to view engineered tsunami mitigation structures. These pre-tsunami photographs from Japan were taken during the field trips and illustrate coastal features prior to the March 11, 2011 tsunami. Pre- and post tsunami satellite imagery (courtesy Google Earth) and vertical aerial photography (Courtesy of Geospacial Information Authority of Japan (GSI), was used to qualitatively determine impacted areas by the tsunami. Information about sites visited is from the 3rd International Tsunami Field Symposium, Guidebook for Sanriku Field Trip edited by Ikuo Abe and Fumihiko Imamura.

The magnitude 9.1 Tohoku earthquake on March 11, 2011, which occurred near the northeast coast of Honshu, Japan, at a depth of 24.4 km (15.2 miles) resulted from thrust faulting on or near the subduction zone plate boundary between the Pacific and North America plates ( At the latitude of this earthquake, the Pacific plate moves approximately westwards with respect to the North America plate at a rate of 83 mm/yr, and begins its westward descent beneath Japan at the Japan Trench.

From south to north the sites visited were:

Map of sites visited in Japan.
View Field Trip Site Visit Map, April 2010:


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