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Keywords:

  • 2011Tohoku earthquake;
  • Japan Trench;
  • submarine landslide;
  • tsunami

[1] We describe in detail possible large submarine landslides, several tens of kilometers in length and width, on the trench landward slope of the Japan Trench on the basis of high-resolution topographic surveys and detailed seafloor observations. These slides stopped at the toe of the trench slope. After initial movement of the toe along a basal decollement or thrust of the trench landward slope wedge during an earthquake, the basal frictional condition(s) might change drastically from static to dynamic, thus reducing the frictional strength. As a result, rapid submarine landsliding push downward on the toe, generating large horizontal displacements for tsunamis. This hypothesis should explain suitably the relation between large displacement of the thrust fault and tsunami generation by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake as well as tsunami generation by the 1896 Tohoku earthquake.