At 14:46 on March 11, 2011 (local time), a large earthquake of magnitude Mw 9.0 took place, generating a tsunami that caused severe damage to the east coast of Japan. To comprehensively record tsunami trace heights and impacts along the coastal region, the Tohoku Earthquake Tsunami Joint Survey Group was organized immediately after the event. As part of this group, the authors conducted a field survey in Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures. The surveyed area can be divided into 2 parts from the point of view of its geographical features: the northern part (a rias coastal area) and the southern part (a coastal plain area). In this paper, the characteristics of the damage due to the tsunami in each area are analyzed by using both the results of the authors' own field survey and the Joint Survey Group. In the rias coastal area, inundation heights were more than 10 m, which resulted in the flooding of the low-lying grounds located at the inner part of the bays. The tsunami wave caused widespread destruction in this area, and coastal buildings (including reinforced concrete buildings) suffered severe damage. In the southern coastal plains, inundation heights were 510 m and the tsunami reached a few kilometers inland, though unfortunately there were not enough high locations or buildings for the residents to evacuate. In addition, an extensive line of coastal dikes and forests, which had been placed to protect the wide plains behind them, also suffered extensive damage. From these geographically dependent inundation and destruction patterns, a number of important lessons on how to modify and improve future risk management strategies can be obtained.
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