Video: Geotechnical investigation of the March 11, 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, Japan


In coordination with the Japanese Geotechnical Society, the first group of GEER members, consisting of Ross Boulanger (Team Leader), Scott Ashford, Jennifer Donahue, and Jonathan Stewart visited sites in the Kanto Plain region during the period of March 26 to April 1, 2011.  Their trip was constrained by time available as well as the need to stay clear of ongoing humanitarian operations as well as the limited by the crisis at the Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima. They focused their efforts on documenting the damage to various facilities, with special attention given to evidence of damage that will be cleaned up quickly or vanish because of natural processes.

Download the Geotechnical Quick Report on the Kanto Plain Region during the March 11, 2011, Off Pacific Coast of Tohoku Earthquake, Japan by Scott A. Ashford, Ross W. Boulanger, Jennifer L. Donahue, and Jonathan P. Stewart – April 5, 2011

Download the GEER’s Google Earth File (April 10, 2011) – 13.6 MB

5619618289_b1dae7ffb4The amount of liquefaction related damage shown in their photos and video is simply staggering.  They show seaports, water treatment plants, residential buildings, and town and village main streets that are covered in sand that boiled up from the ground as a result of the strong shaking.  Buildings and structures have tilted, and some settled by as much as a meter or two.  There is even photos showing a sewer line that floated up to the surface when the soil around it liquefied.

The data that was collected by this and other GEER teams and the follow-up analysis will allow geotechnical engineers and others to learn from the tragic events and hopefully lead to safer, more earthquake resistant designs.

Video of Liquefaction Damage from the 2011 Japan Earthquake