Special Event: Tohoku, Japan earthquake

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This Special Event web page is intended to provide direct links to and images of data and materials available from NSF SAGE programs and preliminary research results from the seismology community. We welcome any additional contributions containing original content that might be of interest to the research community. Please send them to the email address listed below.

NSF SAGE does not necessarily endorse the views or scientific validity of the posted items.

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake has occurred near the east coast of Honshu, Japan, as a result of thrust faulting on or near the subduction zone interface plate boundary between the Pacific and North American plates. This page collects many disparate data visualizations from across the websphere.

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Event parameters (from USGS)

Magnitude 9.0
UTC Time Friday, March 11, 2011 at 05:46:23 UTC
Local Time Friday, March 11, 2011 at 02:46:23 PM at epicenter
Location 38.322°N, 142.369°E
Depth 24.4 km (15.2 miles)
Distances 130 km (80 miles) E of Sendai, Honshu, Japan
178 km (110 miles) E of Yamagata, Honshu, Japan
178 km (110 miles) ENE of Fukushima, Honshu, Japan
373 km (231 miles) NE of TOKYO, Japan
Details USGS

Japan Google static map
Figure 1: Location of the Japan event

General Information

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake has occurred near the east coast of Honshu, Japan, as a result of thrust faulting on or near the subduction zone interface plate boundary between the Pacific and North American plates. This earthquake generated a tsunami, and a tsunami warning was issued throughout the Pacific.

Numerous websites have been developed that provide access to the extensive information resources related to this earthquake. The emphasis of this page is on seismological data, products and early results. In addition to direct links to data and materials available from IRIS programs, this page includes a compilation of preliminary research results from the seismological community.

ISC Online Bibliography page for this event

ISC summary page for this event

IRIS DMC Products and Data for the M9.0 TOHOKU, JAPAN event

The IRIS DMC has the following event based products ready:

Waveform data collected in near real-time is available for this event from the DMC’s Wilber system in addition to other request mechanisms. The Wilber page for this event data can be reached directly using this link:

For more information on access to IRIS earthquake-oriented data, please refer to:

Data from the IRIS DMC via WILBER

IRIS Education and Public Outreach Products

IRIS Education and Public Outreach and the University of Portland have established routine procedures to develop a set of “Teachable Moments” which provide a short summary of the latest major earthquake within a few hours to one day after an event. Prepared by seismologists and educators, “Teachable Moments” include powerpoint slides, .pdf presentations and animations.

Tohoku, Japan Teachable Moment (IRIS)

Japan aftershocks screen
Figure 4: Japan aftershocks animation

First five days of aftershocks from the March 11, 2011 M9.0 earthquake in Japan (mp4 video).
Note that there have been so many aftershocks that not all have yet been located. Earthquake data from the NEIC website.

Aftershock sequence, historical seismicity and Finite-Fault model (Charles Ammon, Penn State)

Magnitude 8.9 Earthquake Near The East Coast Of Honshu, Japan (EarthScope ANF)

Back Projection of the Rupture for the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake (Mori)

Back projection slip model (Alex Hutko, IRIS)

Aftershock animation & figures (Alex Hutko, IRIS)

Delayed Triggering of Extended Tremor in WA & OR (Wech/UW)

Earthquake Sound of the Mw9.0 Tohoku, Japan earthquake (Zhigang Peng, Georgia Tech)

Global CMT focal mechanisms for earthquakes of the Honshu sequence (Global CMT Project)

Global Displacement Wavefield from the Global Seismographic Network (New Mexico Tech)

Iterative back projection of the rupture and spatial-temporal distribution of subevents (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD)

IRIS-DMC waveform of raw data (Nagoya University)

Japan Sendai Earthquake Data Portal (Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis)

Preliminary Result of the Mar 11, 2011 Mw 9.1 Honshu Earthquake (UCSB, NIED)

Preliminary Rupture Model using USArray Transportable Array Data (Harvard University)

Slip models using teleseismic+GPS data, backprojection, high frequency radiation pattern (Tectonics Observatory, Caltech)

Graph by Charles J. Ammon
Figure 5: Graph by Charles J. Ammon

See larger image | PDF version

Pie Chart by Rick Aster
Figure 6: Pie Chart by Rick Aster

See larger image

Cumulative seismic moment estimated for shallow earthquakes. Modified from Ammon et al., SRL 2010 – moment magnitude values assumed for the largest earthquakes were (9.0, 1952), (9.5, 1960), (9.2, 1964), (9.15, 2004), (9.05, 2011) and extended to the present using magnitude estimates from the US Geological Survey and the Global Centroid Moment Tensor Project (Harvard & Columbia Universities).

UNAVCO Event Response to the Mw=9.0 Tohoku, Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

GEO’s Sendai Event Supersite Website – includes preliminary results contributed by researchers.

Magnitude 9.0 – NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN (USGS) 2011 March 11

Magnitude 7.1 – NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN (USGS) 2011 April 07

Magnitude 7.0 – OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN (USGS) 2011 July 10

Poster of the Great Tohoku Earthquake of March 11, 2011 (USGS)

Tohoku, Japan Earthquake – Educational Slides [PDF | PPT] (USGS NEIC)

The 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake (ERI, University of Tokyo)

AIST acceleration data (DPRI Kyoto University)

Analysis of the first wave train (Nagoya University)

Earthquake Research Institute — tsunami info, source inversion, waveforms, focal mechanism, attenuation, aftershocks, moment rate function

Excitation of Gravest Modes after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake (Michel van Camp and Luis Rivera)

Finite Fault Model (Gavin Hayes, USGS)

Japan animation of seismicity (Japan Quake Map by Paul Nicholls)

Japan Earthquake Wiki (Foundation of Earth Science Information Partners)

Jarray Data (ERI, University of Tokyo)

JMA Earthquake Information (Japan Meteorological Agency)

NIED Report & Seismograms (NIED)

NIED shakemap, seismograms, seismicity, pga, spectra, slip distribution (NIED)

Preliminary inversion of seismic moment release along the 2011 Japan earthquake source (INGV)

Rapid mainshock location, magnitude and tsunami potential determinations in real-time (INGV)

SCEC response site (SCEC)

Slip distribution (Yamanaka, Nagoya University)

Slip Distribution, Movies of slip, moment rate function, and focal mechanism (University of Tsukuba )

Strong motion records during the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku earthquake (ERI)

Waveforms, Spectra and Strong Motion Parameters (Building Research Institue )

Photos and Video

Air Photos of Damage (Asia Aire Survey Co.)

Before and After Aerial Photos (ABC News)

Honshu tsunami propagation (NOAA animation)

Magnitude 9.0 Tohoku Earthquake and its aftershocks (SCEC animation)

Satellite Imagery of Flooding from Tsunami near Sendai, Japan (NASA)

Space-based information for earthquake in Japan and tsunami in Pacific Region (UN-SPIDER SpaceAid)

Tohoku earthquake animation (JAMSTEC)

Tsunami Information

IISEE – Off Tohoku-Pacific Tsunami on March 11, 2011

NOAA Tsunami Website

NOAA – Tsunami Event – March 11, 2011 Honshu

NOAA – Tsunami Wave Height Projections (jpg)

Pacific Tsunami Warning Center

Tohoku Earthquake Tsunami Information (JSCE)

Tsunami Observations Japan Earthquake

NSF SAGE Facility Event Page

The NSF SAGE Facility event page for this event contains links to additional tools and data.


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