Japan Tsunami: Wave Propagation - March 11, 2011
DetailsPermalink to Details
- Added to the Catalog
- Available for
- Water: Tsunamis
- DART Buoys
- Japanese Tsunami
DescriptionPermalink to Description
On March 11, 2011 at 2:45 p.m. local time, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake occurred 81 miles (130 km) off the east coast of Sendai, Honshu, Japan, triggering a massive tsunami. A tsunami is a series of ocean waves generated by sudden displacements in the sea floor, landslides, or volcanic activity. In the deep ocean, the tsunami wave may only be a few inches high. The tsunami wave may come gently ashore or may increase in height to become a fast moving wall of turbulent water several meters high. Forecasted wave heights in Japan were up to 66 ft (20 m) and there were many reports of tsunami waves three stories high in parts of Japan. Across the Pacific Ocean, many countries issued evacuations along the coasts because of the predicted tsunami waves. Propagation of the tsunami was computed with the NOAA forecast method using the MOST (Method of Splitting Tsunami) model with the tsunami source inferred from DART. Approximately 25 minutes after the earthquake, the tsunami was first recorded by one of the DART buoys.
The NOAA Center for Tsunami Research, located at NOAA PMEL in Seattle, WA runs the MOST model and produced this dataset. The main objective of the forecast model is to provide an estimate of wave arrival time, wave height and inundation area immediately after a tsunami event. Tsunami forecast models are run in real time while a tsunami is propagating in the open ocean, consequently they are designed to perform under very stringent time limitations. In addition to the forecasted 66 ft wave heights, the model also shows over 130 ft (40 m) of runup, which is the highest topographic elevation that the tsunami reaches. Observations have confirmed the runup height of 130 ft in parts of Japan. As the tsunami radiated out from Japan, it encountered the complex topography and bathymetry of sea floor, causing the wave to scatter and reflect. After 8 hours, the tsunami hit Hawaii and after 9.5 hours, the tsunami made landfall on the west coast of the United States. At the 16 hour mark, the tsunami wave entered the Indian Ocean and at the 22 hour mark, the wave had propagated throughout the entire Pacific Ocean and was an incredibly complex wave due to the varied topography and bathymetry of the sea floor. The yellow dots mark the locations of the DART buoys. The final frames of this dataset show the maximum wave amplitude and the arrival time of the tsunami wave.
A second version of this dataset combines the Wave Propagation model with the other Japan Tsunami datasets that are available here. It starts by showing the earthquake activity leading up to the tsunami, then shows the tsunami wave propagation combined with earthquake activity and then ends with a map of maximum wave heights.
Next Generation Science StandardsPermalink to Next Generation Science Standards
Cross-cutting ConceptsPermalink to Cross-cutting Concepts
C1 Patterns. Students identify similarities and differences in order to sort and classify natural objects and designed products. They identify patterns related to time, including simple rates of change and cycles, and to use these patterns to make predictions.
C5 Energy and Matter. Students learn matter is made of particles and energy can be transferred in various ways and between objects. Students observe the conservation of matter by tracking matter flows and cycles before and after processes and recognizing the total weight of substances does not change.
C7 Stability and Change. Students measure change in terms of differences over time, and observe that change may occur at different rates. Students learn some systems appear stable, but over long periods of time they will eventually change.
C1 Patterns. Students recognize that macroscopic patterns are related to the nature of microscopic and atomic-level structure. They identify patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships that provide information about natural and human designed systems. They use patterns to identify cause and effect relationships, and use graphs and charts to identify patterns in data.
C3 Scale Proportion and Quantity. Students observe time, space, and energy phenomena at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small. They understand phenomena observed at one scale may not be observable at another scale, and the function of natural and designed systems may change with scale. They use proportional relationships (e.g., speed as the ratio of distance traveled to time taken) to gather information about the magnitude of properties and processes. They represent scientific relationships through the use of algebraic expressions and equations
C4 Systems and System Models. Students can understand that systems may interact with other systems; they may have sub-systems and be a part of larger complex systems. They can use models to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs—and energy, matter, and information flows within systems. They can also learn that models are limited in that they only represent certain aspects of the system under study.
C5 Energy and Matter. Students learn matter is conserved because atoms are conserved in physical and chemical processes. They also learn within a natural or designed system, the transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter. Energy may take different forms (e.g. energy in fields, thermal energy, energy of motion). The transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a designed or natural system.
C7 Stability and Change. Students explain stability and change in natural or designed systems by examining changes over time, and considering forces at different scales, including the atomic scale. Students learn changes in one part of a system might cause large changes in another part, systems in dynamic equilibrium are stable due to a balance of feedback mechanisms, and stability might be disturbed by either sudden events or gradual changes that accumulate over time
C3 Scale Proportion and Quantity. Students understand the significance of a phenomenon is dependent on the scale, proportion, and quantity at which it occurs. They recognize patterns observable at one scale may not be observable or exist at other scales, and some systems can only be studied indirectly as they are too small, too large, too fast, or too slow to observe directly. Students use orders of magnitude to understand how a model at one scale relates to a model at another scale. They use algebraic thinking to examine scientific data and predict the effect of a change in one variable on another (e.g., linear growth vs. exponential growth).
C4 Systems and System Models. Students can investigate or analyze a system by defining its boundaries and initial conditions, as well as its inputs and outputs. They can use models (e.g., physical, mathematical, computer models) to simulate the flow of energy, matter, and interactions within and between systems at different scales. They can also use models and simulations to predict the behavior of a system, and recognize that these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in the models. They can also design systems to do specific tasks.
C5 Energy and Matter. Students learn that the total amount of energy and matter in closed systems is conserved. They can describe changes of energy and matter in a system in terms of energy and matter flows into, out of, and within that system. They also learn that energy cannot be created or destroyed. It only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems. Energy drives the cycling of matter within and between systems. In nuclear processes, atoms are not conserved, but the total number of protons plus neutrons is conserved.
C7 Stability and Change. Students understand much of science deals with constructing explanations of how things change and how they remain stable. They quantify and model changes in systems over very short or very long periods of time. They see some changes are irreversible, and negative feedback can stabilize a system, while positive feedback can destabilize it. They recognize systems can be designed for greater or lesser stability
Disciplinary Core IdeasPermalink to Disciplinary Core Ideas
ESS2.A Earth Materials and Systems. Four major Earth systems interact. Rainfall helps to shape the land and affects the types of living things found in a region. Water, ice, wind, organisms, and gravity break rocks, soils, and sediments into smaller pieces and move them around
ESS2.B Plate Tectonics & Large Scale Interactions. Earth’s physical features occur in patterns, as do earthquakes and volcanoes. Maps can be used to locate features and determine patterns in those events.
ESS3.B Natural Hazards. A variety of hazards result from natural processes; humans cannot eliminate hazards but can reduce their impacts.
PS3.A Definitions of Energy. Moving objects contain energy. The faster the object moves, the more energy it has. Energy can be moved from place to place by moving objects, or through sound, light, or electrical currents. Energy can be converted from one form to another form.
PS4.A Wave Properties. Waves are regular patterns of motion, which can be made in water by disturbing the surface. Waves of the same type can differ in amplitude and wavelength. Waves can make objects move.
ESS2.A Earth Materials and Systems. Energy flows and matter cycles within and among Earth’s systems, including the sun and Earth’s interior as primary energy sources. Plate tectonics is one result of these processes.
ESS2.B Plate Tectonics & Large Scale Interactions. Plate tectonics is the unifying theory that explains movements of rocks at Earth’s surface and geological history. Maps are used to display evidence of plate movement.
ESS3.B Natural Hazards. Mapping the history of natural hazards in a region and understanding related geological forces can help forecast the locations and likelihoods of future events, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and severe weather.
PS2.A Forces and Motion. The role of the mass of an object must be qualitatively accounted for in any change of motion due to the application of a force.
PS3.A Definitions of Energy. Kinetic energy can be distinguished from the various forms of potential energy. Energy changes to and from each type can be tracked through physical or chemical interactions. The relationship between the temperature and the total energy of a system depends on the types, states, and amounts of matter.
PS4.A Wave Properties. A simple wave model has a repeating pattern with a specific wavelength, frequency, and amplitude, and mechanical waves need a medium through which they are transmitted. This model can explain many phenomena including sound and light. Waves can transmit energy
ESS2.A Earth Materials and Systems. Feedback effects exist within and among Earth’s systems.The geological record shows that changes to global and regional climate can be caused by interactions among changes in the sun’s energy output or Earth’s orbit, tectonic events, ocean circulation, volcanic activity, glaciers, vegetation, and human activities.
ESS2.B Plate Tectonics & Large Scale Interactions. Radioactive decay within Earth’s interior contributes to thermal convection in the mantle. Plate tectonics can be viewed as the surface expression of mantle convection.
ESS3.B Natural Hazards. Natural hazards and other geological events have shaped the course of human history at local, regional, and global scales. Human activities can contribute to the frequency and intensity of some natural hazards.
PS2.A Forces and Motion. Newton’s 2nd law (F=ma) and the conservation of momentum can be used to predict changes in the motion of macroscopic objects.
PS2.C Stability & Instability in Physical Systems. Systems often change in predictable ways; understanding the forces that drive the transformations and cycles within a system, as well as the forces imposed on the system from the outside, helps predict its behavior under a variety of conditions. When a system has a great number of component pieces, one may not be able to predict much about its precise future. For such systems (e.g., with very many colliding molecules), one can often predict average but not detailed properties and behaviors (e.g., average temperature, motion, and rates of chemical change but not the trajectories or other changes of particular molecules). Systems may evolve in unpredictable ways when the outcome depends sensitively on the starting condition and the starting condition cannot be specified precisely enough to distinguish between different possible outcomes.
PS3.A Definitions of Energy. The total energy within a system is conserved. Energy transfer within and between systems can be described and predicted in terms of energy associated with the motion or configuration of particles (objects).
PS4.A Wave Properties. The wavelength and frequency of a wave are related to one another by the speed of the wave, which depends on the type of wave and the medium through which it is passing. Waves can be used to transmit information and energy.
Notable FeaturesPermalink to Notable Features
- The first half of the dataset shows the tsunami wave propagation as forecasted by the MOST model
- Yellow dots mark the locations of DART buoys
- The second half of the dataset shows the maximum wave amplitudes with travel time for the tsunami wave
VariationsPermalink to Variations
Variations introduce slight modifications to the main dataset. For example, a variation might add a PIP or provide a translated audio track.
- Japan Tsunami Wave Propagation - March 11, 2011 (with video footage)
Data SourcePermalink to Data Source
NOAA Center for Tsunami Research