- The 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku (東北地方太平洋沖地震, Tōhoku-chihō Taiheiyō Oki Jishin?) was a magnitude 9.0–9.1 (M w ..."2011 Miyagi earthquake" redirects here. For the aftershock that occurred on 7 April, see April 2011 Miyagi earthquake."Japan tsunami" redirects here. For other earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan, see List of earthquakes in Japan.
2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunamiAn aerial view of the Sendai region with black smoke coming from the Nippon Oil refinery Date 11 March 2011 Origin time 14:46:24 JST (UTC+09:00) Duration 6 minutes Magnitude 9.0–9.1 Mw Depth 29 km (18 mi) Epicenter Coordinates: Type Megathrust Areas affected Japan (shaking, tsunami)
Pacific Rim (tsunami)
Total damage Tsunami wave, flooding, landslides, fires, building and infrastructure damage, nuclear incidents including radiation releases Max. intensity IX (Violent) Peak acceleration 2.99 g Tsunami Up to 40.5 m (133 ft)
in Miyako, Iwate, Tōhoku
Landslides Yes Foreshocks List of foreshocks and aftershocks of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake Aftershocks 11,450 (as of 3 March 2015) Casualties 15,894 deaths,
2,562 people missing
On 10 March 2015, a Japanese National Police Agency report confirmed 15,894 deaths, 6,152 injured, and 2,562 people missing across twenty prefectures, as well as 228,863 people living away from their home in either temporary housing or due to permanent relocation. A 10 February 2014 agency report listed 127,290 buildings totally collapsed, with a further 272,788 buildings "half collapsed", and another 747,989 buildings partially damaged. The earthquake and tsunami also caused extensive and severe structural damage in north-eastern Japan, including heavy damage to roads and railways as well as fires in many areas, and a dam collapse. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said, "In the 65 years after the end of World War II, this is the toughest and the most difficult crisis for Japan." Around 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water.
The tsunami caused nuclear accidents, primarily the level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, and the associated evacuation zones affecting hundreds of thousands of residents. Many electrical generators were taken down, and at least three nuclear reactors suffered explosions due to hydrogen gas that had built up within their outer containment buildings after cooling system failure resulting from the loss of electrical power. Residents within a 20 km (12 mi) radius of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and a 10 km (6.2 mi) radius of the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant were evacuated.
Early estimates placed insured losses from the earthquake alone at US$14.5 to $34.6 billion. The Bank of Japan offered ¥15 trillion (US$183 billion) to the banking system on 14 March in an effort to normalize market conditions. The World Bank's estimated economic cost was US$235 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster in world history.
- 1 Earthquake
- 2 Tsunami
- 3 Land subsidence
- 4 Casualties
- 5 Damage and effects
- 6 Aftermath
- 7 Humanitarian response
- 8 Media coverage
- 9 Scientific and research response
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
The main earthquake was preceded by a number of large foreshocks, with hundreds of aftershocks reported. One of the first major foreshocks was a 7.2 Mw event on 9 March, approximately 40 km (25 mi) from the epicenter of 11 March earthquake, with another three on the same day in excess of 6.0 Mw. Following the main earthquake on 11 March, a 7.4 Mw aftershock was reported at 15:08 JST (6:06 UTC), succeeded by a 7.9 Mw at 15:15 JST (6:16 UTC) and a 7.7 Mw at 15:26 JST (6:26 UTC). Over eight hundred aftershocks of magnitude 4.5 Mw or greater have occurred since the initial quake, including one on 26 October 2013 (local time) of magnitude 7.1 Mw. Aftershocks follow Omori's Law, which states that the rate of aftershocks declines with the reciprocal of the time since the main quake. The aftershocks will thus taper off in time, but could continue for years.
One minute before the earthquake was felt in Tokyo, the Earthquake Early Warning system, which includes more than 1,000 seismometers in Japan, sent out warnings of impending strong shaking to millions. It is believed that the early warning by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) saved many lives. The warning for the general public was delivered about 8 seconds after the first P wave was detected, or about 31 seconds after the earthquake occurred. However, the estimated intensities were smaller than the actual ones in some places in Kanto and Tōhoku regions. This was thought to be because of smaller estimated earthquake magnitude, smaller estimated fault plane, shorter estimated fault length, not having considered the shape of the fault, etc. There were also cases where large differences between estimated intensities by the Earthquake Early Warning system and the actual intensities occurred in the aftershocks and triggered earthquakes.
This earthquake occurred where the Pacific Plate is subducting under the plate beneath northern Honshu; which plate is a matter of debate amongst scientists. The Pacific plate, which moves at a rate of 8 to 9 cm (3.1 to 3.5 in) per year, dips under Honshu's underlying plate building large amounts of elastic energy. This motion pushes the upper plate down until the accumulated stress causes a seismic slip-rupture event. The break caused the sea floor to rise by several metres. A quake of this magnitude usually has a rupture length of at least 500 km (310 mi) and generally requires a long, relatively straight fault surface. Because the plate boundary and subduction zone in the area of the Honshu rupture is not very straight, it is unusual for the magnitude of its earthquake to exceed 8.5 Mw; the magnitude of this earthquake was a surprise to some seismologists. The hypocentral region of this earthquake extended from offshore Iwate Prefecture to offshore Ibaraki Prefecture. The Japanese Meteorological Agency said that the earthquake may have ruptured the fault zone from Iwate to Ibaraki with a length of 500 km (310 mi) and a width of 200 km (120 mi). Analysis showed that this earthquake consisted of a set of three events. Other major earthquakes with tsunamis struck the Sanriku Coast region in 1896 and in 1933.
The source area of this earthquake has a relatively high coupling coefficient surrounded by areas of relatively low coupling coefficients in the west, north, and south. From the averaged coupling coefficient of 0.5–0.8 in the source area and the seismic moment, it was estimated that the slip deficit of this earthquake was accumulated over a period of 260–880 years, which is consistent with the recurrence interval of such great earthquakes estimated from the tsunami deposit data. The seismic moment of this earthquake accounts for about 93% of the estimated cumulative moment from 1926 to March 2011. Hence, earthquakes with magnitudes about 7 since 1926 in this area only had released part of the accumulated energy. In the area near the trench, the coupling coefficient is high, which could act as the source of the large tsunami.
Most of the foreshocks are interplate earthquakes with thrust-type focal mechanisms. Both interplate and intraplate earthquakes appeared in the aftershocks offshore Sanriku coast with considerable proportions.
The strong ground motion registered at the maximum of 7 on the Japan Meteorological Agency seismic intensity scale in Kurihara, Miyagi Prefecture. Three other prefectures—Fukushima, Ibaraki and Tochigi—recorded an upper 6 on the JMA scale. Seismic stations in Iwate, Gunma, Saitama and Chiba Prefecture measured a lower 6, recording an upper 5 in Tokyo.
In Russia, the main shock could be felt in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (MSK 4) and Kurilsk (MSK 4). The aftershock at 06:25 UTC could be felt in Yuzhno-Kurilsk (MSK 5) and Kurilsk (MSK 4).
Japan's National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED) calculated a peak ground acceleration of 2.99 g (29.33 m/s2).[fn 2] The largest individual recording in Japan was 2.7 g, in Miyagi Prefecture, 75 km from the epicentre; the highest reading in the Tokyo metropolitan area was 0.16 g.
Geophysical effectsPortions of northeastern Japan shifted by as much as 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in) closer to North America, making some sections of Japan's landmass wider than before. Those areas of Japan closest to the epicenter experienced the largest shifts. A 400-kilometre (250 mi) stretch of coastline dropped vertically by 0.6 metres (2 ft 0 in), allowing the tsunami to travel farther and faster onto land. One early estimate suggested that the Pacific plate may have moved westward by up to 20 metres (66 ft), and another early estimate put the amount of slippage at as much as 40 m (130 ft). On 6 April the Japanese coast guard said that the quake shifted the seabed near the epicenter 24 metres (79 ft) and elevated the seabed off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture by 3 metres (9.8 ft). A report by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, published in Science on 2 December 2011, concluded that the seabed in the area between the epicenter and the Japan Trench moved 50 metres (160 ft) east-southeast and rose about 7 metres (23 ft) as a result of the quake. The report also stated that the quake had caused several major landslides on the seabed in the affected area.
Soil liquefaction was evident in areas of reclaimed land around Tokyo, particularly in Urayasu, Chiba City, Funabashi, Narashino (all in Chiba Prefecture) and in the Koto, Edogawa, Minato, Chūō, and Ōta Wards of Tokyo. Approximately 30 homes or buildings were destroyed and 1,046 other buildings were damaged to varying degrees. Nearby Haneda Airport, built mostly on reclaimed land, was not damaged. Odaiba also experienced liquefaction, but damage was minimal.
Shinmoedake, a volcano in Kyushu, erupted three days after the earthquake. The volcano had previously erupted in January 2011; it is not known if the later eruption was linked to the earthquake. In Antarctica, the seismic waves from the earthquake were reported to have caused the Whillans Ice Stream to slip by about 0.5 metres (1 ft 8 in).
AftershocksFurther information: List of foreshocks and aftershocks of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquakeJapan has experienced over 1,000 aftershocks since the earthquake, with 80 registering over magnitude 6.0 Mw and several of which have been over magnitude 7.0 Mw.
A magnitude 7.4 Mw at 15:08 (JST), 7.9 Mw at 15:15 and a 7.7 Mw quake at 15:26 all occurred on 11 March.
A month later, a major aftershock struck offshore on 7 April with a magnitude of 7.1 Mw. Its epicenter was underwater, 66 km (41 mi) off the coast of Sendai. The Japan Meteorological Agency assigned a magnitude of 7.4 MJMA, while the U.S. Geological Survey lowered it to 7.1 Mw. At least four people were killed, and electricity was cut off across much of northern Japan including the loss of external power to Higashidōri Nuclear Power Plant and Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant.
Four days later on 11 April, another magnitude 7.1 Mw aftershock struck Fukushima, causing additional damage and killing a total of three people.
On 7 December 2012 a large aftershock of magnitude 7.3 Mw caused a minor tsunami, and again on 26 October 2013 small tsunami waves were recorded after a 7.1 Mw aftershock.
As of 16 March 2012 aftershocks continued, totaling 1887 events over magnitude 4.0; a regularly updated map showing all shocks of magnitude 4.5 and above near or off the east coast of Honshu in the last seven days showed over 20 events.
As of 11 March 2016 there had been 869 aftershocks of 5.0 Mw or greater, 118 of 6.0 Mw or greater, and 9 over 7.0 Mw as reported by the Japanese Meteorological Agency.
The number of aftershocks was associated with decreased health across Japan.
JapanThe tsunami warning issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency was the most serious on its warning scale; it was rated as a "major tsunami", being at least 3 m (9.8 ft) high. The actual height prediction varied, the greatest being for Miyagi at 6 m (20 ft) high. The tsunami inundated a total area of approximately 561 km2 (217 sq mi) in Japan.
Like the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the damage by surging water, though much more localized, was far more deadly and destructive than the actual quake. Entire towns were destroyed in tsunami-hit areas in Japan, including 9,500 missing in Minamisanriku; one thousand bodies had been recovered in the town by 14 March 2011.
Among several factors causing the high death toll from the tsunami, one was the unexpectedly large size of the water surge. The tsunami walls at several of the affected cities were based on much smaller tsunami heights. Also, many people caught in the tsunami thought that they were located on high enough ground to be safe.
On 13 March 2011, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) published details of tsunami observations recorded around the coastline of Japan following the earthquake. These observations included tsunami maximum readings of over 3 m (9.8 ft) at the following locations and times on 11 March 2011, following the earthquake at 14:46 JST:
- 15:12 JST – off Kamaishi – 6.8 m (22 ft)
- 15:15 JST – Ōfunato – 3.2 m (10 ft) or higher
- 15:20 JST – Ishinomaki-shi Ayukawa – 3.3 m (11 ft) or higher
- 15:21 JST – Miyako – 4.0 m (13.1 ft) or higher
- 15:21 JST – Kamaishi – 4.1 m (13 ft) or higher
- 15:44 JST – Erimo-cho Shoya – 3.5 m (11 ft)
- 15:50 JST – Sōma – 7.3 m (24 ft) or higher
- 16:52 JST – Ōarai – 4.2 m (14 ft)
JMA also reported offshore tsunami height recorded by telemetry from moored GPS wave-height meter buoys as follows:
- offshore of central Iwate (Miyako) – 6.3 m (20 ft)
- offshore of northern Iwate (Kuji) – 6.0 m (18 ft)
- offshore of northern Miyagi (Kesennuma) – 6.0 m (18 ft)
- Port of Hachinohe – 5–6 m (16–19 ft)
- Port of Hachinohe area – 8–9 m (26–29 ft)
- Port of Kuji – 8–9 m (26–29 ft)
- Port of Kamaishi – 7–9 m (23–30 ft)
- Port of Ōfunato – 9.5 m (31 ft)
- Run up height, port of Ōfunato area – 24 m (79 ft)
- Fishery port of Onagawa – 15 m (50 ft)
- Port of Ishinomaki – 5 m (16 ft)
- Shiogama section of Shiogama-Sendai port – 4 m (13 ft)
- Sendai section of Shiogama-Sendai port – 8 m (26 ft)
- Sendai Airport area – 12 m (39 ft)
A Japanese government study found that 58% of people in coastal areas in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures heeded tsunami warnings immediately after the quake and headed for higher ground. Of those who attempted to evacuate after hearing the warning, only five percent were caught in the tsunami. Of those who didn't heed the warning, 49% were hit by the water.
Elsewhere across the Pacific
Along the Pacific Coast of Mexico and South America, tsunami surges were reported, but in most places caused little or no damage. Peru reported a wave of 1.5 m (5 ft) and more than 300 homes damaged. The surge in Chile was large enough to damage more than 200 houses, with waves of up to 3 m (9.8 ft). In the Galápagos Islands, 260 families received assistance following a 3-metre (9.8 ft) surge which arrived 20 hours after the earthquake, after the tsunami warning had been lifted. There was a great deal of damage to buildings on the islands and one man was injured but there were no reported fatalities.
As of April 2012, wreckage from the tsunami spread around the oceans, including a soccer ball which was found in Alaska and a Japanese motorcycle found in British Columbia, Canada.
- Miyako, Iwate – 0.50 m (1.64 ft)
- Yamada, Iwate – 0.53 m (1.73 ft)
- Ōtsuchi, Iwate – 0.35 m (1.14 ft)
- Kamaishi, Iwate – 0.66 m (2.16 ft)
- Ōfunato, Iwate – 0.73 m (2.39 ft)
- Rikuzentakata, Iwate – 0.84 m (2.75 ft)
- Kesennuma, Miyagi – 0.74 m (2.42 ft)
- Minamisanriku, Miyagi – 0.69 m (2.26 ft)
- Oshika Peninsula, Miyagi – 1.2 m (3.93 ft)
- Ishinomaki, Miyagi – 0.78 m (2.55 ft)
- Higashimatsushima, Miyagi – 0.43 m (1.41 ft)
- Iwanuma, Miyagi – 0.47 m (1.54 ft)
- Sōma, Fukushima – 0.29 m (0.95 ft)
Of the 13,135 fatalities recovered by 11 April 2011, 12,143 or 92.5% died by drowning. Victims aged 60 or older accounted for 65.2% of the deaths, with 24% of total victims being in their 70s. As of March 2012, Japanese police data showed that 70% of the 3,279 still missing were aged 60 or over, all found, including 893 in their 70s and 577 in their 80s. Of the total confirmed victims, 14,308 drowned, 667 were crushed to death or died from internal injuries, and 145 perished from burns.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry has confirmed the deaths of nineteen foreigners. Among them are two English teachers from the United States affiliated with the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program; a Canadian missionary in Shiogama; and citizens of China, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Pakistan and the Philippines.
By 9:30 UTC on 11 March, Google Person Finder, which was previously used in the Haitian, Chilean, and Christchurch, New Zealand earthquakes, was collecting information about survivors and their locations. The Next of Kin Registry (NOKR) is assisting the Japanese government in locating next of kin for those missing or deceased.
Japanese funerals are normally elaborate Buddhist ceremonies that entail cremation. The thousands of bodies, however, exceeded the capacity of available crematoriums and morgues, many of them damaged, and there were shortages of both kerosene—each cremation requires 50 litres—and dry ice for preservation. The single crematorium in Higashimatsushima, for example, could only handle four bodies a day, although hundreds were found there. Governments and the military were forced to bury many bodies in hastily dug mass graves with rudimentary or no rites, although relatives of the deceased were promised that they would be cremated later.
The tsunami is reported to have caused several deaths outside Japan. One man was killed in Jayapura, Papua, Indonesia after being swept out to sea. A man who is said to have been attempting to photograph the oncoming tsunami at the mouth of the Klamath River, south of Crescent City, California, was swept out to sea. His body was found on 2 April along Ocean Beach in Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon, some 330 miles (530 km) to the north.
Noted individual fatalities within Japan included 103-year-old Takashi Shimokawara, holder of the world athletics records in the men's shot put, discus throw and javelin throw for the over-100s age category. He was killed by the earthquake and tsunami at Kamaishi, Iwate.
As of 27 May 2011, three Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members had died while conducting relief operations in Tōhoku. As of March 2012, the Japanese government had recognized 1,331 deaths as indirectly related to the earthquake, such as caused by harsh living conditions after the disaster. As of 30 April 2012, 18 people had died and 420 had been injured while participating in disaster recovery or clean-up efforts.
Damage and effects
An estimated 230,000 automobiles and trucks were damaged or destroyed in the disaster. As of the end of May 2011, residents of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures had requested deregistration of 15,000 vehicles, meaning that the owners of those vehicles were writing them off as unrepairable or unsalvageable.
The Port of Tokyo suffered slight damage; the effects of the quake included visible smoke rising from a building in the port with parts of the port areas being flooded, including soil liquefaction in Tokyo Disneyland's parking lot.
Dams and water problems
This section needs to be updated. (March 2013)
In the immediate aftermath of the calamity, at least 1.5 million households were reported to have lost access to water supplies. By 21 March 2011, this number fell to 1.04 million.
In an effort to help alleviate the shortage, three steel manufacturers in the Kanto region contributed electricity produced by their in-house conventional power stations to TEPCO for distribution to the general public. Sumitomo Metal Industries could produce up to 500 MW, JFE Steel 400 MW, and Nippon Steel 500 MW of electric power Auto and auto parts makers in Kanto and Tōhoku agreed in May 2011 to operate their factories on Saturdays and Sundays and close on Thursdays and Fridays to assist in alleviating the electricity shortage during the summer of 2011.
Oil, gas and coal
An analyst estimates that consumption of various types of oil may increase by as much as 300,000 barrels (48,000 m3) per day (as well as LNG), as back-up power plants burning fossil fuels try to compensate for the loss of 11 GW of Japan's nuclear power capacity.
The city-owned plant for importing liquefied natural gas in Sendai was severely damaged, and supplies were halted for at least a month.
In addition to refining and storage, several power plants were damaged. These include Sendai #4, New-Sendai #1 and #2, Haranomachi #1 and #2, Hirono #2 and #4 and Hitachinaka #1.
Nuclear power plantsFurther information: Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disasterThe Fukushima Daiichi, Fukushima Daini, Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant and Tōkai nuclear power stations, consisting of a total eleven reactors, were automatically shut down following the earthquake. Higashidōri, also on the northeast coast, was already shut down for a periodic inspection. Cooling is needed to remove decay heat after a Generation II reactor has been shut down, and to maintain spent fuel pools. The backup cooling process is powered by emergency diesel generators at the plants and at Rokkasho nuclear reprocessing plant. At Fukushima Daiichi and Daini, tsunami waves overtopped seawalls and destroyed diesel backup power systems, leading to severe problems at Fukushima Daiichi, including three large explosions and radioactive leakage. Subsequent analysis found that many Japanese nuclear plants, including Fukushima Daiichi, were not adequately protected against tsunami. Over 200,000 people were evacuated.
7 April aftershock caused the loss of external power to Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant and Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant but backup generators were functional. Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant lost 3 of 4 external power lines and temporarily lost cooling function in its spent fuel pools for "20 to 80 minutes". A spill of "up to 3.8 litres" of radioactive water also occurred at Onagawa following the aftershock.
A report by the IAEA in 2012 found that the Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant, the closest nuclear plant to the epicenter of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, had remained largely undamaged. The plant's 3 reactors automatically shut down without damage and all safety systems functioned as designed. The plant's 14-metre-high (46 ft) seawall successfully withstood the tsunami.
Europe's Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger addressed the European Parliament on 15 March, explaining that the nuclear disaster was an "apocalypse". As the nuclear crisis entered a second month, experts recognized that Fukushima Daiichi is not the worst nuclear accident ever, but it is the most complicated. Nuclear experts stated that Fukushima will go down in history as the second-worst nuclear accident ever.... while not as bad as Chernobyl disaster, worse than Three Mile Island accident. It could take months or years to learn how damaging the release of dangerous isotopes has been to human health and food supplies, and the surrounding countryside.
Later analysis indicated three reactors at Fukushima I (Units 1, 2, and 3) had suffered meltdowns and continued to leak coolant water, and by summer the Vice-minister for Economy, Trade and Industry, the head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, and the head of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, had lost their jobs.
Fukushima meltdownsMain articles: Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and Timeline of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
It was reported that radioactive iodine was detected in the tap water in Fukushima, Tochigi, Gunma, Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, and Niigata, and radioactive cesium in the tap water in Fukushima, Tochigi and Gunma. Radioactive cesium, iodine, and strontium were also detected in the soil in some places in Fukushima. There may be a need to replace the contaminated soil. Many radioactive hotspots were found outside the evacuation zone, including Tokyo. Food products were also found contaminated by radioactive matter in several places in Japan. On 5 April 2011, the government of the Ibaraki Prefecture banned the fishing of sand lance after discovering that this species was contaminated by radioactive cesium above legal limits. As late as July 2013 slightly elevated levels of radioactivity were found in beef on sale at Tokyo markets.
Incidents elsewhereA fire occurred in the turbine section of the Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant following the earthquake. The blaze was in a building housing the turbine, which is sited separately from the plant's reactor, and was soon extinguished. The plant was shut down as a precaution.
On 13 March the lowest-level state of emergency was declared regarding the Onagawa plant as radioactivity readings temporarily exceeded allowed levels in the area of the plant. Tōhoku Electric Power Co. stated this may have been due to radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accidents but was not from the Onagawa plant itself.
As a result of 7 April aftershock, Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant lost 3 of 4 external power lines and lost cooling function for as much as 80 minutes. A spill of a couple of litres of radioactive water occurred at Onagawa.
The number 2 reactor at Tōkai Nuclear Power Plant was shut down automatically. On 14 March it was reported that a cooling system pump for this reactor had stopped working; however, the Japan Atomic Power Company stated that there was a second operational pump sustaining the cooling systems, but that two of three diesel generators used to power the cooling system were out of order.
Wind powerNone of Japan's commercial wind turbines, totaling over 2300 MW in nameplate capacity, failed as a result of the earthquake and tsunami, including the Kamisu offshore wind farm directly hit by the tsunami.
A tsunami wave flooded Sendai Airport at 15:55 JST, about 1 hour after the initial quake, causing severe damage. Narita and Haneda Airport both briefly suspended operations after the quake, but suffered little damage and reopened within 24 hours. Eleven airliners bound for Narita were diverted to nearby Yokota Air Base.
There were no derailments of Shinkansen bullet train services in and out of Tokyo, but their services were also suspended. The Tōkaidō Shinkansen resumed limited service late in the day and was back to its normal schedule by the next day, while the Jōetsu and Nagano Shinkansen resumed services late on 12 March. Services on Yamagata Shinkansen resumed with limited numbers of trains on 31 March.
Derailments were minimized because of an early warning system that detected the earthquake before it struck. The system automatically stopped all high-speed trains, which minimized the damage.
The Tōhoku Shinkansen line was worst hit, with JR East estimating that 1,100 sections of the line, varying from collapsed station roofs to bent power pylons, will need repairs. Services on the Tōhoku Shinkansen partially resumed only in Kantō area on 15 March, with one round-trip service per hour between Tokyo and Nasu-Shiobara, and Tōhoku area service partially resumed on 22 March between Morioka and Shin-Aomori. Services on Akita Shinkansen resumed with limited numbers of trains on 18 March. Service between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori was restored by May, but at lower speeds due to ongoing restoration work; the pre-earthquake timetable was not reinstated until late September.
DefenseMatsushima Air Field of the Japan Self-Defense Force in Miyagi Prefecture was struck by the tsunami, flooding the base and resulting in damage to all 18 Mitsubishi F-2 fighter jets of the 21st Fighter Training Squadron. 12 of the aircraft were scrapped, while the remaining 6 were slated for repair at a cost of 80 billion yen ($1 billion), exceeding the original cost of the aircraft.
Space centerJAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) evacuated the Tsukuba Space Center in Tsukuba, Ibaraki. The Center, which houses a control room for part of the International Space Station, was shut down and some damage was reported. The Tsukuba control center resumed full operations for the space station's Kibo laboratory and the HTV cargo craft on 21 March 2011.
AftermathMain article: Aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunamiThe aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami included both a humanitarian crisis and a major economic impact. The tsunami resulted in over 340,000 displaced people in the Tōhoku region, and shortages of food, water, shelter, medicine and fuel for survivors. In response the Japanese government mobilized the Self-Defence Forces (under Joint Task Force – Tōhoku, led by Lieutenant General Eiji Kimizuka), while many countries sent search and rescue teams to help search for survivors. Aid organizations both in Japan and worldwide also responded, with the Japanese Red Cross reporting $1 billion in donations. The economic impact included both immediate problems, with industrial production suspended in many factories, and the longer term issue of the cost of rebuilding which has been estimated at ¥10 trillion ($122 billion). In comparison to the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake, the East Japan earthquake brought serious damage to an extremely wide range.
The aftermath of the twin disasters also left Japan's coastal cities and towns with nearly 25 million tons of debris. In Ishinomaki alone, there were 17 trash collection sites 180 metres long and at least 4.5 metres high. An official in the city's government trash disposal department estimated that it would take three years to empty these sites.
In April 2015, authorities off the coast of Oregon discovered debris that is thought to be from a boat destroyed during the tsunami. Cargo contained yellowtail jack fish, a species that lives off the coast of Japan, still alive. KGW estimates that more than 1 million tons of debris still remain in the Pacific Ocean.
It was noted that the Japanese news media has been at times overly cautious to avoid panic and reliance on confusing statements by experts and officials.
In this national crisis, the Japanese government provided Japanese Sign Language (JSL) interpreting at the press conferences related to the earthquake and tsunami. Television broadcasts of the press conferences of Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano included simultaneous JSL interpreters standing next to the Japanese flag on the same platform.
According to Jake Adelstein, most Japanese media accepted and parroted the misinformation put out by the Japanese government and TEPCO about the unfolding Fukushima nuclear crisis. Notable exceptions, according to Adelstein, were newspapers Sankei Shimbun and Chunichi Shimbun which questioned the accuracy of the information coming from the government and TEPCO. Because of the unquestioning nature of most Japanese media to hold to the "party line", many Japanese mid-level officials and experts spoke to foreign media to get their opinions and observations publicized.
Atsushi Funahashi, director of Nuclear Nation notes that "when the overseas media was calling Fukushima a 'meltdown,' the Japanese government and media waited two months before admitting it."
Nine days after the earthquake hit, a visualization and sonification were uploaded to YouTube allowing listeners to hear the earthquake as it unfolded in time. Two days of seismic activity made available by the IRIS Consortium were compressed into two minutes of sound. The large number of views made the video one of the most popular examples of sonification on the web.
Also, following the earthquake, for the first time in Japanese history, the Emperor addressed the nation in a pre-recorded television broadcast.
Scientific and research responseSeismologists anticipated a very large quake would strike in the same place as the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake — in the Sagami Trough, southwest of Tokyo. The Japanese government had tracked plate movements since 1976 in preparation for the so-called Tokai earthquake, predicted to take place in that region. However, occurring as it did 373 km (232 mi) north east of Tokyo, the Tōhoku earthquake came as a surprise to seismologists. While the Japan Trench was known for creating large quakes, it had not been expected to generate quakes above an 8.0 magnitude.
The quake gave scientists the opportunity to collect a large amount of data so as to model in great detail the seismic events that took place. This data is expected to be used in a variety of ways, providing as it does unprecedented information about how buildings respond to shaking, and other effects. Gravimetric data from the quake has been used to create a model for increased warning time compared to seismic models, as gravity fields travel faster than seismic waves.
Researchers have also analysed the economic effects of this earthquake and have developed models of the nationwide propagation via interfirm supply networks of the shock originated in Tōhoku region.
Researchers soon after the full extent of the disaster was known launched a project to gather all digital material relating to the disaster into an online searchable archive to form the basis of future research into the events during and after the disaster. The Japan Digital Archive is presented in English and Japanese and is hosted at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts. Some of the first research to come from the archive was a 2014 paper from the Digital Methods Initiative in Amsterdam about patterns of Twitter usage around the time of the disaster.
After the 2011 disaster the UNISDR, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, held its World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Tohoku in March 2015, which produced the Sendai Framework document to guide efforts by international development agencies to act before disasters instead of reacting to them after the fact. At this time Japan's Disaster Management Office (Naikakufu Bosai Keikaku) published a bi-lingual guide in Japanese and English, Disaster Management in Japan, to outline the several varieties of natural disaster and the preparations being made for the eventuality of each. In the fall of 2016 Japan's National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience (NIED; Japanese abbreviation, Bosai Kaken; full name Bousai Kagaku Gijutsu Kenkyusho) launched the online interactive "Disaster Chronology Map for Japan, 416–2013" (map labels in Japanese) to display in visual form the location, disaster time, and date across the islands.
- Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
- Health crisis
- List of earthquakes in 2011
- List of earthquakes in Japan
- List of historical tsunamis
- Lists of earthquakes
- Map to chronicle all known disasters in Japan from 416–2013 (labels in Japanese)
- Nuclear power in Japan § Seismicity
- Ryou-Un Maru
- Seismicity of the Sanriku coast
- In the early days after the earthquake some other names were proposed and used. The Japan Meteorological Agency announced the English name as The 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku Earthquake. NHK used Tōhoku Kantō Great Earthquake disaster (東北関東大震災 Tōhoku Kantō Daishinsai?); Tōhoku-Kantō Great Earthquake (東北・関東大地震 Tōhoku-Kantō Daijishin?) was used by Kyodo News, Tokyo Shimbun and Chunichi Shimbun; East Japan Giant Earthquake (東日本巨大地震 Higashi Nihon Kyodaijishin?) was used by Yomiuri Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun and TV Asahi, and East Japan Great Earthquake (東日本大地震 Higashi Nihon Daijishin?) was used by Nippon Television, Tokyo FM and TV Asahi.
- Architectural Institute of Japan (editor) (2012). Preliminary Reconnaissance Report of the 2011 Tōhoku-Chiho Taiheiyo-Oki Earthquake. Springer. p. 460.
- Birmingham, Lucy; McNeill, David (2012). Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan's Earthquake, Tsunami and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 256.
- Cabinet Office Disaster Management, Government of Japan (2015). Disaster Management in Japan. Online (bilingual), http://www.bousai.go.jp/1info/pdf/saigaipamphlet_je.pdf
- Japan's Killer Quake – NOVA
- Poster of the Great Tōhoku Earthquake from United States Geological Survey (USGS)
- Scientific information about the Tōhoku earthquake
- on YouTube
- Pacific Tsunami Warning Center at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Map of Tsunami Inundation Areas in Japan from ReliefWeb
- Massive earthquake hits Japan Photos from The Boston Globe
- Japan Earthquake: before and after aerial and satellite images from ABC News, credited to Post-earthquake images of Japan
- Satellite Photos of Japan, Before and After the Quake and Tsunami The New York Times
- 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami at Google Crisis Response
- Japan in Crisis: A Series of Interviews with Scholars by Peter Shea at the University of Minnesota
- Special: The Tōhoku-Oki Earthquake, Japan – free-access scientific papers from Science magazine
- 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami at DMOZ
- Japan Gigantic Earthquake and Tsunami 2011
- The East Japan Earthquake Archive (Testimonies of survivors, Photographs and Videos on Google Earth)
- Gross, Richard. (2011, 19 March) "Japan Earthquake May Have Shifted Earth's Axis" – NPR online
- PreventionWeb Great East Japan Earthquake 2011
- Video archives from NHK
- on 's channelYouTube from FNN
- Interactive Comparisons of Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami at Beslider.com
Nearly 1.5 million households had gone without water since the quake struck.
A 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck early Saturday morning off Japan's east coast [...] Japan's meteorological agency said the quake was an aftershock of the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck the same area in 2011.
The temblor shook buildings in the capital, left millions of homes across Japan without electricity, shut down the mobile phone network and severely disrupted landline phone service.