Impact of Tsunami Inundation on Soil Salinisation: Up to One Year After the 2011 Tohoku-Oki Tsunami

  • Catherine Chagué-Goff
  • Henri K. Y. Wong
  • Daisuke Sugawara
  • James Goff
  • Yuichi Nishimura
  • Jennifer Beer
  • Witold Szczuciński
  • Kazuhisa Goto
Part of the Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research book series (NTHR, volume 35)


The long-term effect of tsunami inundation on soil salinisation was assessed following the 2011 Tohoku-oki tsunami in two areas on the Sendai Plain, near Sendai airport in the Miyagi Prefecture and Matsukawa-ura near Soma in the Fukushima Prefecture. Data gathered over four sampling seasons 2, 5, 9 and 11 months after the tsunami near Sendai airport show that the salt content generally decreased with time. Concentrations were nevertheless higher in February 2012 than in October 2011, probably due to capillary action and evaporation following long periods with little precipitation in the winter, while the lower concentrations in October were attributed to dilution due to intense rainfall prior to the sampling period. In February 2012, the area with chloride concentrations over the guidelines for the establishment of rice seedlings still extended for nearly 1 km between 2.45 and 3.33 km inland. Chloride concentrations also reached the guideline values at the land surface 1.71 km inland. This corresponded to the limit of the area deemed not suitable for rice production by local rice farmers. However, recent observations revealed that rice crops were not only halted in 2011 but also in 2012, probably due to high salinisation of soil and/or surface and groundwater. Our study shows that soil salinisation was still recorded to nearly 15 cm depth in areas with fine-grained organic-rich soil ~2.5 km from the shoreline 11 months after the tsunami, and that water-leachable ions were preferentially retained in organic-rich muddy sediment and soil, reflecting the long-term impact of tsunami inundation. In Matsukawa-ura, salt crusts still covered the area flooded by the tsunami in February 2012 and both the soil and muddy tsunami deposit were characterised by high chloride and sulphate concentrations. The latter might also lead to sulphide toxicity. Remediation measures have been implemented in certain areas, but further research needs to be carried out to test the effectiveness of the measures being used to allow rice production to resume.


Chloride Rice crops Salt Sulphate 2011 Tohoku-oki tsunami 



Collection of samples in February 2012 was carried out when CCG was a visiting professor at the Institute of Seismology and Volcanology, University of Hokkaido, Japan. Brett Rowling and Matthew Dore (ANSTO) are thanked for assisting in sample preparation and analysis. We acknowledge Mr. Sato for his assistance during our field survey in February 2012, and thank the anonymous reviewer for their comments that greatly improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine Chagué-Goff
    • 1
    • 2
  • Henri K. Y. Wong
    • 2
  • Daisuke Sugawara
    • 3
  • James Goff
    • 1
  • Yuichi Nishimura
    • 4
  • Jennifer Beer
    • 1
  • Witold Szczuciński
    • 5
  • Kazuhisa Goto
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Biological, Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Australian Nuclear Science and Technology OrganisationKirrawee DCAustralia
  3. 3.International Research Institute of Disaster ScienceTohoku UniversitySendaiJapan
  4. 4.Institute of Seismology and Volcanology, Faculty of ScienceHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  5. 5.Institute of GeologyA. Mickiewicz University in PoznańPoznańPoland

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