Developing tsunami fragility curves from the surveyed data of the 2011 great east Japan tsunami in Sendai and Ishinomaki plains

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Japan was hit by the tsunami generated by the greatest earthquake in the history of Japan. The authors conducted the post-tsunami field survey in Miyagi prefecture immediately after the event to measure the inundation depth and investigate damaged buildings. Most of the buildings surveyed were wooden houses and could be classified into 4 damage levels. The primary data of inundation depth and damage levels obtained from the field survey were used to create the tsunami fragility curves, which described the degree of structural damage as a function of the hydrodynamic characteristics of tsunami inundation. The developed fragility curves show that damage with more than a 50% chance of occurring is classified as minor damage, moderate damage, major damage and complete damage when the tsunami inundation depth is between 2.53.0 m, 3.04.0 m and 4.04.5 m and greater than 4.5 m, respectively. By comparing the developed tsunami fragility curves, wooden houses in the studied area have higher structural performance than those obtained from historical events in other areas. The new curves suggest that wooden houses will be severely damaged if the inundation depth is greater than 3 m and collapse if the depth is greater than 4 m while wooden houses from historical data can resist only 12 m. Moreover, wooden walls in Japan reduce the overall failure of a structural member because a wooden wall is easier to destroy (compared to brick walls in Thailand and Indonesia) and allows the tsunami to pass through, which reduces the pressure at the attacking front of the tsunami. The fragility curves are very important for the loss estimation and reconstruction plans of the city; they are also crucial for reducing the disaster damage from a future tsunami.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1250008
JournalCoastal Engineering Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Mar


  • field survey
  • The 2011 Great East Japan tsunami
  • tsunami fragility curve


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