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Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 171, Issue 12, pp 3307–3328 | Cite as

The Tohoku Tsunami of 11 March 2011: The Key Event to Understanding Tsunami Sedimentation on the Coasts of Closed Bays of the Lesser Kuril Islands

  • N. G. RazjigaevaEmail author
  • L. A. Ganzey
  • T. A. Grebennikova
  • E. D. Ivanova
  • A. A. Kharlamov
  • V. M. Kaistrenko
  • Kh. A. Arslanov
  • S. B. Chernov
Article

Abstract

The Tohoku tsunami of 11 March 2011 manifested in the region of the South Kuril Islands, although, as a rule, the run-up heights in this region did not exceed 3 m. In closed bays that were covered with ice before the tsunami, the eroding capacity of tsunami waves was aggravated by the ice fragments they carried. Here, mud sheets formed, reaching up to 106 m inland. The 2012 studies have shown well-preserved tsunami deposits, evident 1.5 years after the event. A comparative analysis of tsunami deposits from the periphery and from the near-field area close to the tsunami source was performed; this was important for understanding the deposition mechanism during the event, as it had different strengths on different shores. The difference in run-up heights determined the considerable differences in erosion, sedimentation, distribution of tsunami deposits, the formation of sedimentary structures, grain-size composition, and diatom and foraminifera assemblages. The sources of the material also varied significantly from each other: the material came from offshore in closed bays located in the tsunami source periphery, while in the near-field region close to the epicenter, the most active erosion occurred in the inundation area. In the latter area, the main sources of sand were beaches and dunes, while soil erosion was the source of mud. Studies of the Tohoku tsunami on the coasts of the Lesser Kuril Islands demonstrated that mud layers in the sections of coastal lowlands in closed bays could contain preserved detailed geological records of paleotsunamis, even those with a small-height run-up. In the sections of coastal peatlands of closed bays on Shikotan Island, up to 7–9 layers of mud and silty sands were found, these can easily be traced for more than 500 m inland. The grain-size composition of the mud is similar to the deposits of the 2011 Tohoku tsunami. The marine origin of these deposits is confirmed by the diatom analysis data.

Keywords

2011 Tohoku tsunami deposits mud grain size diatoms foraminifera lesser Kuril Islands Pacific Ocean 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors are thankful to V.N. Boyko, Director of the “Kurilsky” Natural Reserve, for his help in the fieldwork organization. We gratefully acknowledge the contribution from the researchers of the Reserve, I.A. Nevedomskaya, A.G. Savchenko, S.E. Karpenko, and Yu.V. Sinkevich, who sampled the tsunami deposits from the ice floes immediately after the tsunami passage. The work was performed with the financial support of RFBR, grants No. 11-05-00497, 12-05-00757 and FEB RAS grant 12-I-P4-06; the expedition was supported by RFBR grant 11-05-10027-к, 12-05-10021. We express our sincere gratitude to Mrs. Florence Haiber (New York, USA), who revised the English version. We are very thankful to Fred Stephenson (IOS, Sidney, BC, Canada) for editing the English text. The authors would like to thank Prof. Yuichi Nishimura (Institute of Seismology and Volcanology, Graduate School of Science, Hokkaido University, Japan) and two anonymous reviewers for constructive criticism and productive comments that significantly improved the quality of the paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. G. Razjigaeva
    • 1
    Email author
  • L. A. Ganzey
    • 1
  • T. A. Grebennikova
    • 1
  • E. D. Ivanova
    • 1
  • A. A. Kharlamov
    • 2
  • V. M. Kaistrenko
    • 3
  • Kh. A. Arslanov
    • 4
  • S. B. Chernov
    • 4
  1. 1.Pacific Geographical Institute, FEB RASVladivostokRussia
  2. 2.P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, RASMoscowRussia
  3. 3.Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics, FEB RASYuzhno-SakhalinskRussia
  4. 4.Department of Geography and GeoecologySt. Petersburg State UniversitySt. PetersburgRussia

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