The Orphan Tsunami of 1700

Japanese Clues to a Parent Earthquake in North America

Brian F. Atwater

  • $30.00s paperback (9780295985350) Add to Cart
  • hardcover not available
  • Published: 2005
  • Subject Listing: Environmental Studies, Geology
  • Bibliographic information: 144 pp., 325 illus., 280 in color, 8.5 x 11 in.
  • Published with: US Geological Survey, Department of the Interior
  • Contents

The outside world scarcely knew of northwestern North America in the year 1700. The Pacific coast, from southcentral Alaska to Oregon's Cape Blanco, was uncharted until the Spanish and English explorations of the 1770s. Yet, when tectonic plates suddenly shifted there in 1700, a train of ocean waves - a tsunami - sped across the Pacific Ocean. When the waves came ashore in Japan, they flooded fields and washed away houses. Samurai, merchants, and villagers recorded the mysterious event, but they observed no storm and felt no parent earthquake. In Japan, this tsunami was an orphan.

The Orphan Tsunami of 1700 tells this transpacific detective story by presenting its primary sources, Japanese documents and North American sediments and tree rings. They tell of a catastrophe a century before Lewis and Clark's expedition that now guides preparations for future earthquakes and tsunamis in the North Pacific.

A rich array of graphic detail and narrative explains the creation, action, and lasting effects of earthquakes and tsunamis.

Hear Brian Atwater on NPR with Renee Montagne
Brian F. Atwater is a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and an affiliate professor of earth sciences at the University of Washington. Satoko Musumi-Rokkaku teaches at Obirin University, Tokyo. Kenji Satake is deputy director of the Active Fault Research Center for the Geological Survey of Japan. Yoshinobu Tsuji is associate professor at the Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo. Kazue Ueda is retired from the Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo. David K. Yamaguchi is a statistician at the Center for Health Studies, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle.
1. Unearthed earthquakes
2. The orphan tsunami
- Kuwagasaki
- Tsugaruishi
- Otsuchi
- Nakaminato
- Miho
- Tanabe
3. The orphan's parent

"On nearly every page the relevance of this history to our present-day situation is underscored. This book about the 'big one' of long ago should be of special interest to all of us right now."

"The book is a meticulous and comprehensive piece of scholarship that both draws on the authors' ground-breaking research and pulls together hundreds of references on the topic...The text is highly readable and requires no special expertise, only a scientific curiosity and a willingness to participate in the assembly of discovery."
-Oregon Historical Quarterly

"Paddling around the salt marshes and tidal flats of Washington State, Atwater discovered evidence of earthquakes and giant waves of a magnitude that seemed, to many, inconceivable-until late last year, when a tsunami of similar power tore across the Indian Ocean, killing more than 200,000."
-Time Magazine, naming Brian Atwater one of the world's 100 most influential people of 2005