Pacific Disaster Center Fostering Disaster Resilient Communities  

Information Support for Japan

About

2011 Tohoku, Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Emergency

Widespread disasters that devastate multiple communities take a considerable toll on national and international resources. Models and information products that use the most current and relevant information can provide focus for response and recovery efforts. In March 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Honshu, Japan. The earthquake generated a tsunami which in turn triggered a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, requiring massive evacuations and negatively impacting economies around the world.

As the tsunami waves spread across the ocean, PDC went into emergency operations support mode. The tsunami warning, officially issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, and a tsunami travel time map was pushed to disaster managers via PDC applications. The information was also shared with the general public through PDC’s website, Disaster Alert mobile app, and social media channels. In addition, PDC team members immediately began responding to requests for detailed maps and data, rapidly generating hundreds of new products within the first two months following the disaster. The products aided authorities in damage assessment activities and helped response agencies track displaced persons and plot shelter capacity as well as supported recovery processes.

Residents comb through the debris near the Ofunato port following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011. (Image courtesy of NOAA/NGDC, Gunnery Sgt. Leo A. Salinas, U.S. Marine Corps)

Cover photo: U.S. Air Force by Tech. Sgt. Daniel St. Pierre