Heavy minerals in the 2011 Tohoku-oki tsunami deposits-insights into sediment sources and hydrodynamics

Robert Jagodziński, Beata Sternal, Witold Szczuciński, Catherine Chagué-Goff, Daisuke Sugawara

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61 Citations (Scopus)


The 2011 Tohoku-oki tsunami left sand and mud deposits more than 4. km inland on the coastal plain of Sendai, Japan. The tsunami deposits, pre-tsunami soils and beach sediments were analysed for grain size, and heavy mineral content and assemblages to test the applicability of heavy mineral analyses in the identification of tsunami deposits and interpretation of associated sedimentation processes. Heavy minerals comprised on average 35% of the tsunami deposit in the 0.125-0.25. mm grain size fraction. The most common were orthopyroxenes, clinopyroxenes, amphiboles, limonites and opaque minerals. Heavy mineral concentrations and assemblages were similar in the tsunami deposits, beach and pre-tsunami soils and sediments and thus tsunami deposits could not simply be identified based on their heavy minerals. Sediment provenance analysis revealed that tsunami deposits left within 1.5. km of the shoreline were mostly eroded from the beach, dune and local soils, while deposits farther inland (> 1.5 km) were mostly derived from local soil erosion. No evidence was found for a significant contribution of offshore sediments. Detailed analyses revealed that the lowermost portion of tsunami deposits was mostly of local origin, while the sediment source of the upper portion was variable. A comparison with a previous study of heavy minerals in 2004 IOT deposits confirms that heavy minerals in tsunami deposits are mostly source-dependent and may represent a useful supplementary tool in studies of tsunami deposits. However, the interpretation must always be placed in the local geological context and corroborated with other "tsunami proxies".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-64
Number of pages8
JournalSedimentary Geology
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Dec 30


  • Heavy minerals
  • Japan
  • Sediment provenance
  • Tohoku-oki tsunami
  • Tsunami deposits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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