, Volume 63, Issue 7, pp 803-808,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 27 Sep 2011

Significant tsunami observed at ocean-bottom pressure gauges during the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake

Abstract

The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake caused a devastating tsunami along the shoreline from the Tohoku to Kanto districts. Although many of the tide gauge stations along the Tohoku coast were saturated or damaged due to the tsunami, two cabled ocean-bottom tsunami sensors installed off Kamaishi successfully recorded the tsunami waveform just above the source rupture area. The records indicated a characteristic two-stage tsunami development sequence: a smoothly increasing tsunami amplitude from 0 to 2 m during the first 800 s from the earthquake origin time, and a short-period impulsive tsunami with a peak of more than 5 m in the following 200 s. Such observations strongly suggest the lack of any sea floor upheaval at the stations during the earthquake, and the occurrence of an extremely large slip in the shallow portion of the subducting Pacific Plate near the trench axis. The source model derived from the offshore tsunami records indicates that a very large slip of 57 m occurred off Miyagi near the trench axis, south of the rupture area of the 1896 Meiji Sanriku tsunami earthquake, and was the major source of the highly destructive tsunami that subsequently developed.