Advertisement

Natural Hazards

, Volume 68, Issue 2, pp 631–643 | Cite as

Identification and possible recurrence of an oversized tsunami on the Pacific coast of northern Japan

  • Koji MinouraEmail author
  • Shin-ichi Hirano
  • Tsutomu Yamada
Original Paper

Abstract

Geological evidence of severe tsunami inundation has been discovered in northern Japan. In the dune fields of Shimokita, in northernmost Tohoku, we have found two distinctive sand layers that are tsunami deposits. The run-up height of >20 m and inland inundation of at least 1.4 km are notably larger than any known historical case in Japan. The tsunami-genic earthquake that resulted in these deposits is thought to have taken place in the Kuril Forearc-Trench system nearly 700 years ago. The recurrence interval of major tsunamis originating in the Kuril subduction zone is about 400 years. Given that the most recent unusually large earthquake took place in AD 1611 (corresponding to the Keicho earthquake tsunami), the findings presented here increase the potential and hazard for an outsized tsunami striking the Pacific coast of northern Japan.

Keywords

Tsunami deposit Traction carpet Rip-up clast Tsunami backwash Tsunami recurrence interval 

Notes

Acknowledgments

J. Bourgeois and B. Atwater gave us comments on the sedimentology and chronology of tsunami deposits. We greatly appreciate the useful suggestions of two anonymous reviewers. This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (No. 23310118).

References

  1. Alexander J, Bridge JS, Cheel JR, Leclair SF (2001) Bedforms and associated sedimentary structures formed under supercritical water flows over aggrading sand beds. Sedimentology 48:133–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ando K (1990) Environmental indicators based on freshwater diatom assemblages and its application to reconstruction of paleo-environments. Tohoku-Chiri (Annual report of Tohoku Geographical Association) 42:73–88 (In Japanese with English abstract)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bondevik S, Mangerud J, Dawson S, Dawson A, Lohne O (2003) Record-breaking height for 8000-year-old tsunami in the North Atlantic. Eos, Eos Trans Am Geophys Union 84:289–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chigama A, Tada S, Aonuma T (1998) Geological elucidation of paleotsunamis and the origin of fossil forests in Shimokita. Zishin (J Seismol Soc Jpn) 51:61–73 (In Japanese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  5. Fagan BM (2000) The Little Ice Age: how climate made history, 1300–1850. Basic Books, New York, p 246Google Scholar
  6. Hand MB (1997) Inverse grading resulting from coarse-sediment transport lag. J Sediment Res 67:124–129Google Scholar
  7. Hashimoto C, Noda A, Sagiya T, Matsu’ura M (2009) Interplate seismogenic zones along the Kuril–Japan trench inferred from GPS data inversion. Nat Geosci 2:141–144. doi: 10.1038/ngeo421 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hiscott R (1994) Traction-carpet stratification in turbidites—fact or fiction? J Sediment Res 64:204–208Google Scholar
  9. Ishizuka Y, Nakamura T, Okuno M, Kimura K, Kim H, Kim K, Moriwaki H (2003) Highly precise AMS radiocarbon dating of woods buried by the 10th century eruption of Baitoushan volcano. Summaries of researches using AMS at Nagoya University 14:58–65 (in Japanese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  10. Japan Meteorological Agency (2011) The 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake. http://www.seisvol.kishou.go.jp/eq/2011_03_11_tohoku/index.html (June 2011)
  11. Kishi T (1983) Shinsen Mutsukokushi (newly compiled history of Shimokita). The committee of the protection of cultural properties of Aomori Prefecture, Japan, p 101 (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  12. Kosugi M (1988) Classification of living diatom assemblages as the indicator of environments, and its application to reconstruction of paleoenvironments. Daiyonki-Kenkyu (Quat Res) 27:1–20 (in Japanese with English abstract)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Minoura K (2011) Hydro-sedimentological study of tsunami run-up. Iwanami-Kagaku (Science) 81:1077–1082 (In Japanese)Google Scholar
  14. Minoura K, Nakaya S (1991) Traces of tsunami preserved in inter-tidal lacustrine and marsh deposits: some examples from northeast Japan. J Geol 99:265–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Minoura K, Nakaya S, Uchida M (1994) Tsunami deposits in a lacustrine sequence of the Sanriku coast, northeast Japan. Sediment Geol 89:25–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Minoura K, Imamura F, Sugawara D, Kono Y, Iwashita T (2001) The 869 Jogan tsunami deposit and recurrence interval of large scale tsunami on the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan. J Nat Disaster Sci 23:83–88Google Scholar
  17. Nanayama F, Furukawa R, Shigeno K, Makino A, Soeda Y, Igarashi Y (2007) Nine unusually large tsunami deposits from the past 4000 years at Kiritappu marsh along the southern Kuril Trench. Sediment Geol 200:275–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Okamoto T, Daimaru H, Ikeda S, Yoshinaga S (2000) Human impacts on the formation of the buried forests of Thujopsis dolabrata var. hondai in the northeastern part of Shimokita Peninsula, northern Japan. Daiyonki-Kenkyu (Quat Res) 39:215–226 (in Japanese with English abstract)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Okamura Y, Namegaya Y (2011) Reconstruction of the 17th century Kuril multi-segment earthquake. Geological Survey of Japan: Annual Report on Active Fault and Paleoearthquake Researches. 11:1520 (in Japanese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  20. Reimer PJ, Baillie MGL, Bard E, Bayliss A, Beck JW, Blackwell PG, Ramseye CB, Buck CE, Burr GS, Edwards RL, Friedrich M, Grootes PM, Guilderson TP, Hajdas I, Heaton TJ, Hogg AG, Hughen KA, Kaiser KF, Kromer B, McCormac FG, Manning SW, Reimer RW, Richards DA, Southon JR, Talamo S, Turney CSM, van der Plicht J, Weyhenmeye CE (2009) IntCal09 and Marine09 radiocarbon age calibration curves, 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 51:1111–1150Google Scholar
  21. Sawai Y, Kamataki T, Shishikura M, Nasu H, Okamura Y, Satake K, Thomson KH, Matsumoto D, Fujii Y, Komatsubara J, Aung TT (2009) Aperiodic recurrence of geologically recorded tsunamis during the past 5500 years in eastern Hokkaido, Japan. J Geophys Res 114:B01319. doi: 10.1029/2007JB005503 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Sohn YK (1997) On traction-carpet sedimentation. J Sediment Res 67:502–509Google Scholar
  23. Usami T (2003) Materials for comprehensive list of destructive earthquake in Japan (revised and enlarged edition). Tokyo University Press, Tokyo, p 728 (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  24. Watanabe H (1998) Comprehensive list of tsunamis to hit the Japanese Islands (second edition). Tokyo University Press, Tokyo, p 238 (in Japanese)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Koji Minoura
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shin-ichi Hirano
    • 1
  • Tsutomu Yamada
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of ScienceTohoku UniversitySendaiJapan

Personalised recommendations