Breaking process and mechanism of coastal levees on Sendai Bay Coast hit by the 2011 mega tsunami

Akira Mano, Tatsuki Iida, Keiko Udo, Hitoshi Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The 2011 mega tsunami induced by the East Japan Earthquake, Mw 9.0 hit the Sendai Bay Coast, overtopped the coastal levees and intruded deeply onto the Sendai and Ishinomaki plains by flushing people, houses, trees, etc. The levees with 6 to 7 m height had been constructed along 65 km-long sandy beach to protect the hinterland from the storm surges and wind waves. Eighty percent of the levees were broken by the tsunami in various degrees ranging from scatter of the surface blocks to the complete disappearance. The government decided to rebuild the levees with the target of the local major hazards as the storm surges but in a durable way even for the tsunami overtopping. Based on this background, this study aims to find the breaking process and mechanism of the coastal levees especially for the destructive cases. We conducted field survey, and collected aerial photos, tsunami records and videos, blue prints of the levees, etc. We integrated information of the tsunami records and videos, and matched the spatial information of the various data by GIS. These analyses enabled well understanding on the breaking process and mechanisms composed from two steps: (1) The impact of the leading bore with the maximum amplitude of 6 to 7m broke weaker parts like structural joints, parapets, landward soil slopes. (2) Return flow concentration to the broken parts in the first step or to the channels and swamps expanded erosion to make tsunami channels and bays and to lead levee breach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)772-777
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Coastal Research
Issue numberSPEC. ISSUE 65
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Bore
  • Breach
  • Erosion
  • Return flow
  • Soliton
  • Tsunami bay
  • Tsunami channel


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