NASA Shows Topography of Tsunami-Damaged Japan City

Tsunami-stricken city of Sendai, Japan The topography of the earthquake and tsunami-stricken city of Sendai, Japan, is revealed in this radar image from NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission.Image credit: NASA/JPL/NGA
› Full image and caption
  • submit to reddit

March 11, 2011

The topography surrounding Sendai, Japan is clearly visible in this combined radar image and topographic view generated with data from NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) acquired in 2000. On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck offshore about 130 kilometers (80 miles) east of Sendai, the capital city of Japan's Miyagi Prefecture, generating a tsunami that devastated the low-lying coastal city of about 1 million residents.

The city is centered in the image and lies along the coastal plain between the Ohu Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The eastern part of the city is a low-lying plains area, while the city center is hilly (the city's official elevation is about 43 meters, or 141 feet). Sendai's western areas are mountainous, with its highest point being Mt. Funagata at an elevation of about 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) above sea level.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake occurred as a result of thrust faulting on or near the subduction zone interface plate boundary between the Pacific and North America plates. At the latitude of this earthquake, the Pacific plate moves approximately westwards with respect to the North America plate at a velocity of 83 millimeters (3.3 inches) per year. The Pacific plate thrusts underneath Japan at the Japan Trench, and dips to the west beneath Eurasia. The location, depth and focal mechanism of the March 11 earthquake are consistent with the event having occurred as thrust faulting associated with subduction along this plate boundary.

This image combines a radar image acquired in February 2000 during the SRTM mission, and color-coding by topographic height using data from the same mission. Dark green colors indicate low elevations, rising through yellow and tan, to white at the highest elevations.

The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission is a cooperative project between NASA, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) of the U.S. Department of Defense and the German and Italian space agencies. It is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C.

For more information, visit: http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/?IDNumber=pia13912 and http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/srtm/ .

Alan Buis 818-354-0474
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Alan.buis@jpl.nasa.gov

2011-078



This view of Earth comes from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer aboard the Terra satellite. NASA Celebrates Earth Day with Public Events and Online Activities

› Read more

This artist's concept shows how the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) International Space Station to Beam Video via Laser Back to Earth

› Read more

Two people taking a 'selfie' NASA Celebrates Earth Day with 'Global Selfie' Event

› Read more


Get JPL Updates
Sign Up for JPL UpdatesRegister today and receive up-to-the-minute e-mail alerts delivered directly to your inbox.
Sign Up for JPL Updates