Movie:Tsunami Japan


Information Page: Tsunami Japan

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Tsunami front travels near Sendai City

Key Attributes

Domain: terrestrial, coastal, marine
Keywords: Tsunami
Keywords: Earthquake
Model name: Animation model name
Name: Irina, NHK/Overeem
Where: Japan
When: minutes

Short Description

Grade level: Middle (6-8), High (9-12), Under graduate (13-16), Graduate / Professional

Statement: Tsunami front progrades over land

Abstract: This clip shows a tsunami front, loaded with debris, prograding fastly over agricultural fields and the nearby city of Sendai. It is estimated that the tsunami was about 10 m high when it hit the shoreline, and it traveled upto 10 km inland.

This tsunami was generated by a 8.9 magnitude earthquake in the Pacific Ocean on March 11th, 2011. The epicenter of the earthquake was 130km offshore of Sendai.


Tsunami is a Japanese word, meaning 'harbor wave'. Japan is affected by tsunamis relatively frequently, because it is located near a plate subduction zone. The Pacific Plate subducts beneath Japan at a very high rate of ~8cm/year. The process of thrust faulting at these plate boundaries is associated with earthquakes and subsea oceanfloor displacements that cause tsunamis.

A magnitude 8.9/9.0 earthquake happened on March 11th, 2011. This was the 5th largest earthquake worldwide since 1900.

A tsunami can travel at a speed of 800km/hr in the deep ocean, but with very long wave length (about 15 min). When such a wave reaches shallower water nearshore, the wave length decreases, because its speed decreases. Then the backend of the wave starts catching up with the front end and and its amplitude starts to increase dramatically. The observations for the March 11th tsunami wave height when hitting the shoreline near Sendai are about 4m. It hit the shore about 1 hour and 10 minutes after the earthquake shock was recorded.

Links Sendai earthquake and tsunami


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