The orphan tsunami of 1700—Japanese clues to a parent earthquake in North America

Professional Paper 1707
Prepared in cooperation with the Geological Survey of Japan (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology), the University of Tokyo, and the University of Washington
By: , and 



A puzzling tsunami entered Japanese history in January 1700. Samurai, merchants, and villagers wrote of minor flooding and damage. Some noted that no parent earthquake had been felt; they were wondering what had set off the waves. They had no way knowing that the tsunami had been spawned during an earthquake along the coast of northwestern North America. This orphan tsunami would not be linked to its parent earthquake until the middle 1990s, through an extraordinary series of discoveries in both North America and Japan.

The Orphan Tsunami of 1700, now in its second edition, tells this scientific detective story through its North American and Japanese clues. The discoveries underpin many of today’s precautions against earthquakes and tsunamis in the Cascadia region of northwestern North America. The Japanese tsunami of March 2011 called attention to those hazards as a mirror image of the transpacific waves of January 1700.

Suggested Citation

Atwater, B.F., Musumi-Rokkaku, S., Satake, K., Tsuji, Y., Ueda, K., and Yamaguchi, D.K., 2015, The orphan tsunami of 1700—Japanese clues to a parent earthquake in North America, 2nd ed.: Seattle, University of Washington Press, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1707, 135 p.

ISSN: 2330-7102 (online)

ISSN: 1044-9612 (print)

Table of Contents

  • Preface to the second edition
  • Introduction
  • Part 1 Unearthed earthquakes
  • Part 2 The orphan tsunami
    • Kuwagasaki
    • Tsugaruishi
    • Tsuchi
    • Nakaminato
    • Miho
    • Tanabe
  • Part 3 The orphan’s parent
  • Acknowledgments
  • Authors
  • References
  • Index
  • Afterword, 2015

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title The orphan tsunami of 1700—Japanese clues to a parent earthquake in North America
Series title Professional Paper
Series number 1707
DOI 10.3133/pp1707
Edition First Edition: Originally posted 2005; Second Edition: 2015
Year Published 2005
Language English, Japanese
Description vii, 135 p.
Country Japan, United States
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional metadata about this publication, not found in other parts of the page is in this table