Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 72, Issue 1, pp 39–52 | Cite as

Nutrient status of Otsuchi Bay (northeastern Japan) following the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake

  • Hideki Fukuda
  • Ryosuke Katayama
  • Yanhui Yang
  • Hiroyuki Takasu
  • Yuichiro Nishibe
  • Atsushi Tsuda
  • Toshi Nagata
Special Section: Original Article Oceanographic observations after the 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tohoku


On 11 March 2011, the Sanriku coast of Japan was struck by a massive tsunami associated with the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake. The tsunami caused large disturbances in bottom sediments and severe destruction of human-made structures, natural landscapes and infrastructures such as sewage treatment systems and aquaculture facilities. A serious and continuing concern is a fundamental alteration of the nutrient regime in the impacted regions, which may exert a profound influence on the processes of ecosystem recovery and fishery reconstruction. We investigated the nutrient status of the water column of Otsuchi Bay, a small embayment that was heavily damaged by the tsunami. Our data collected between May 2011 and July 2014 revealed some prominent features in nutrient parameters that were potentially linked to effects of the tsunami. These features include (1) high turbidity and high concentrations of nitrite and silicic acid until September 2011, (2) the spread of seawater characterized by high phosphate concentration and low total inorganic nitrogen (ammonium + nitrate + nitrite) to phosphate (TIN/P) ratio during the mixing period between November 2011 and January 2012, and (3) an increase in the TIN/P ratio during the mixing period of subsequent years to become higher than it was before the earthquake. These data not only provide evidence of the alteration and subsequent recovery of the nutrient status of Otsuchi Bay after the earthquake but also suggest a possible tsunami-induced alteration in nutrient stoichiometry which appeared to last until at least the beginning of 2014.


The 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake Tsunami Otsuchi Bay Nutrients Turbidity 



We thank T. Abe and M. Abe of Otsuchi town (owners of the fishery vessel Myoho-Maru) for their assistance with the sampling in Otsuchi Bay during the difficult times of May and September 2011 following the earthquake. We also owe our gratitude to the staff of the International Coastal Research Center, Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo for technical and logistical support. K. Naiki and other staff of the Iwate Fisheries Technology Center provided helpful comments on the condition of the sediment after the earthquake. This study was supported by the Research Fund for Reconstruction Aid for the East Japan Great Earthquake Disaster, Japanese Society of Fisheries Oceanography PICES/ICES; the Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Environment Fund; and the research program “Tohoku Ecosystem-Associated Marine Sciences” of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.


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Copyright information

© The Oceanographic Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hideki Fukuda
    • 1
  • Ryosuke Katayama
    • 1
  • Yanhui Yang
    • 1
  • Hiroyuki Takasu
    • 1
  • Yuichiro Nishibe
    • 1
  • Atsushi Tsuda
    • 1
  • Toshi Nagata
    • 1
  1. 1.Atmosphere and Ocean Research InstituteUniversity of TokyoKashiwaJapan

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