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The 11 March 2011 Tohoku tsunami survey in Rikuzentakata and comparison with historical events
Liu, H.; Shimozono, T.; Takagawa, T.; Okayasu, A.; Fritz, H.M.; Sato, S.; Tajima, Y. (2013). The 11 March 2011 Tohoku tsunami survey in Rikuzentakata and comparison with historical events. Pure Appl. Geophys. 170(6-8): 1033-1046.
In: Pure and Applied Geophysics. Birkhäuser: Basel. ISSN 0033-4553, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    Tsunami survey; Historical review; Run-up; Rikuzentakata; Kesen River; Tohoku tsunami; Showa tsunami; Meiji tsunami; Chilean tsunami; Tsunami control forest

Authors  Top 
  • Liu, H.
  • Shimozono, T.
  • Takagawa, T.
  • Okayasu, A.
  • Fritz, H.M.
  • Sato, S.
  • Tajima, Y.

    On 11 March 2011, a moment magnitude M w = 9.0 earthquake occurred off the Japan Tohoku coast causing catastrophic damage and loss of human lives. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, we conducted the reconnaissance survey in the city of Rikuzentakata, Japan. In comparison with three previous historical tsunamis impacting the same region, the 2011 event presented the largest values with respect to the tsunami height, the inundation area and the inundation distance. A representative tsunami height of 15 m was recorded in Rikuzentakata, with increased heights of 20 m around rocky headlands. In terms of the inundation area, the 2011 Tohoku tsunami exceeded by almost 2.6 times the area flooded by the 1960 Chilean tsunami, which ranks second among the four events compared. The maximum tsunami inundation distance was 8.1 km along the Kesen River, exceeding the 1933 Showa and 1960 Chilean tsunami inundations by factors of 6.2 and 2.7, respectively. The overland tsunami inundation distance was less than 2 km. The tsunami inundation height linearly decreased along the Kesen River at a rate of approximately 1 m/km. Nevertheless, the measured inland tsunami heights exhibit significant variations on local and regional scales. A designated “tsunami control forest” planted with a cross-shore width of about 200 m along a 2 km stretch of Rikuzentakata coastline was completely overrun and failed to protect the local community during this extreme event. Similarly, many designated tsunami shelters were too low and were overwashed by tsunami waves, thereby failing to provide shelter for evacuees—a risk that had been underestimated.

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