Distribution of boulders at Miyara Bay of Ishigaki Island, Japan: A flow characteristic indicator of tsunami and storm waves

Kazuhisa Goto, Tetsuya Shinozaki, Koji Minoura, Kiyohiro Okada, Daisuke Sugawara, Fumihiko Imamura

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26 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates the distribution of boulders at Miyara Bay of Ishigaki Island, Japan. These boulders were deposited on a reef flat extending approximately 400-1300 m in width. Most boulders were rectangular to ellipsoidal, without sharp broken edges. They are reef and coral rock fragments estimated as <335 m3 (<633 t). Locally in the bay, the relationship between the boulder weight and position shows that boulders of a given weight have a clear limit on seaward distribution on the reef flat. For example, more than 1, 10, and 100 tons of boulders were deposited, respectively, more than 500, 300, and 100 m from the reef edge. The line is consistent with the possible landward transport limit by maximum storm waves at the Ryukyu Islands, suggesting that the line was formed by the reworking of some boulders by maximally strong storm waves, although we can not exclude the possibility that the line was formed by tsunamis. Furthermore, 68% of boulders at the bay are deposited beyond this line. Therefore, the presence of these boulders at their present positions is difficult to explain solely by storm waves, implying the possible tsunami origin of these boulders. The boulders are characteristically concentrated along the high-tide line, suggesting the drastic reduction of the tsunami hydraulic force along the line. Previous studies using radiocarbon age dating, as well as our study, imply that at least 69 boulders at Miyara Bay were probably deposited at their present positions by the 1771 Meiwa tsunami, although some of these boulders might have been emplaced and displaced on the reef flat by prior tsunami or storm surges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-426
Number of pages15
JournalIsland Arc
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Sept


  • 1771 Meiwa tsunami
  • Boulder
  • Ishigaki Island
  • Miyara Bay
  • Storm wave
  • Tsunami


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