Project Details


There is an extensive instrumental, historical, and geological record of tsunamigenic-earthquakes originating from the northern and middle parts of the Japan Trench that documents the last several thousand years of earthquakes and tsunamis, including the magnitude 9 Tohoku earthquake in 2011. This earthquake ruptured five segments along the northern and middle parts of the Trench, but failed to rupture through the southern part, which is near metropolitan Tokyo. The seismic risk for this portion of the trench is uncertain because of the possibility that stress transferred southwards during the 2011 earthquake and that this part of the subduction zone is locked. Furthermore, the instrumental and historical record is sparse with only one tsunamigenic-earthquake on record (CE 1677 Empo earthquake) and lack of long-term geological data. A research team from University of Southern Mississippi and Rutgers University in collaboration with Japanese researchers will employ an innovative combination of field, laboratory (sedimentary, microfossil, and radiometric analyses), statistical, and modeling techniques to a series of possible tsunami deposits in order to determine the tsunami and earthquake history of the southern Japan Trench, data which is very important for anticipating future disasters. Besides providing an improved understanding of seismic risk in the Tokyo region, additional benefits to society include improved STEM education though outreach to middle school students and development of a globally competitive STEM workforce through training of graduate and undergraduate students and post-doctoral fellow mentoring.The detection and characterization of tsunami deposits preserved in coastal sediments provides a long-term record of past earthquakes. This project focuses on three candidate-tsunami sands that are preserved in coastal rice fields in the Kujukuri beaches, a strand plain located on the Boso Peninsula approximately 50 km east of Tokyo. The identification of tsunami deposits using proxy analyses (grain size and microfossil), with Bayesian age-depth models and tsunami simulation models, will resolve whether the southern part of the trench can produce future earthquakes that are similar in size as the 2011 Tohoku event. Well-constrained ages for each candidate tsunami will permit an accurate estimation of the shoreline position, and thus, inundation distance at the time of deposition. By integrating these changing shoreline positions into previously developed tsunami simulation models (e.g., 2011 Tohoku and CE 1677 Empo models), the research team will test whether previous middle/northern or southern trench ruptures could have deposited the tsunami sands on the Boso Peninsula.
Effective start/end date9/1/168/31/19


  • National Science Foundation (National Science Foundation (NSF))


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