Skip to main content

Volume 60 Supplement 10

Special Issue: Special Section for the 2007 Noto Hanto Earthquake (2)

Does the 2007 Noto Hanto earthquake reveal a weakness in the Japanese national seismic hazard map that could be remedied with geological data?


The Noto Hanto earthquake struck one of the lowest earthquake probability regions on the national seismic hazard map of Japan. To contribute to future updates of the hazard map, we examined the predictability of the 2007 earthquake on the basis of geological data that were available before it occurred. Sonic prospecting profiles of active faulting and the absence of an onshore fault could have limited the potential rupture length to 12–15 km, similar to the 2007 source. Empirical relationships between magnitude and fault length would have given us Mj = 6.6–6.8 and Mw = 6.3–6.4. The emergence of one marine terrace, which inclines to the south and reaches an altitude of approximately 50 m, can be dated to 120–130 ka and yields an uplift rate of approximately 0.4 mm/year. Mw-displacement empirical relationships and examples of recent blind fault events that have occurred at various locations around the world suggest that the conceivable maximum coseismic uplift of such shocks is 40–70 cm. Together with the uplift rate, we would have obtained an average recurrence interval of 1000–2000 years and, consequently, a 1.5–3.0% time-independent (Poisson) probability for 30 years. In addition, the significant inclination of the marine terraces—3.2 per mille (0.32%)—is better explained by the accumulation of frequent southward tilting as large as that of the 2007 type event with approximately 1600-year intervals, without any significant contributions from other seismic sources. We therefore conclude that the Noto Hanto earthquake source would have been better evaluated and identified if we had taken into account not only major active faults but also the active tectonics of moderate-size faults and their associated scale and rate.


  • Awata, Y., S. Toda, H. Kaneda, T. Azuma, H. Horikawa, M. Shishikura, and T. Echigo, Coastal deformation associated with the 2007 Noto Hanto earthquake, central Japan, estimated from uplifted and subsided intertidal organisms, Earth Planets Space, 60, this issue, 1059–1062, 2008.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Geographical Survey Institute, The Mid Niigata prefecture Earthquake in 2004 report index: Results from leveling and GPS-observation,, 2004.

    Google Scholar 

  • Geographical Survey Institute, Coseismic horizontal and vertical displacements due to the 2007 Noto Hanto earthquake detected by the continuous GPS observation,, 2007 (in Japanese).

    Google Scholar 

  • Geological Survey of Japan, 1:1,000,000 scale geological map of Japan, third edition, 1992.

    Google Scholar 

  • Earthquake Research Committee of the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion, National seismic hazard map for Japan, 121 pp., 2005.

  • Hodgkinson, K. M., R. S. Stein, K. W. Hudnut, J. Satalich, and H. Richards, Damage and restoration of geodetic infrastructure caused by the 1994 Northridge, California, earthquake, U. S. Geological Survey Open-File Report #96-517,, 1996.

    Google Scholar 

  • Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), CMT solution of the March 25, 2007 Noto Hanto Oki M 6.9 earthquake,, 2007 (in Japanese).

    Google Scholar 

  • Katagawa, H., M. Hamada, S. Yoshida, H. Kadosawa, A. Mitsuhashi, Y. Kono, and Y. Kinugasa, J. Geogr., 114, 791–810, 2005 (in Japanese with English abstract).

    Google Scholar 

  • Matsuda, T., Magnitude and recurrence interval of earthquakes from a fault, Zisin, Ser. 2, 28, 269–283, 1975 (in Japanese with English abstract).

    Google Scholar 

  • National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, Earthquake mechanism information of the March 25, 2007 Noto Hanto earthquake,, 2007.

    Google Scholar 

  • Okada, Y., Expected crustal deformation due to seismic faulting, Programme and abstracts, the Seismological Society of Japan, 1992, fall meeting, 240, 1992 (in Japanese).

  • Okamura, Y., Explanatory notes of geological map west of Noto Peninsula 1:200,000, Marine Geology Map series, 61(CD), Geological Survey of Japan, AIST, 2003.

  • Okumura, K., The grey zone of the active faulting, Tottori, Niigata, Bam, and Kobe-un essai, Abstracts of the Hokudan International Symposium on Active Faulting, 114-116, 2005.

  • Ota, Y., Late Quaternary vertical movement in Japan estimated from deformed shorelines, Roy. Soc. N. Z. Bull., 13, 231–239, 1975.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ota, Y. and K. Hirakawa, Marrine terraces and their deformation in Noto Peninsula, Japan Sea side of central Japan, Geogr. Rev. Jpn., 52(4), 169–189, 1979 (in Japanese with English abstract).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ota, Y., T. Matsuda, and J. Hirakawa, Active faults in Noto Peninsula, central Japan, Quatern. Res., 15, 109–128, 1976 (in Japanese with English abstract).

    Google Scholar 

  • Ota, Y., T. Sekiguchi, M. Taguchi, K. Yoshitake, and S. Odagiri, 1:100,000 scale map and explanatory (pp. 16) of crustal movement and land condition map of Noto Peninsula,, 1998.

    Google Scholar 

  • Research Group for Active Faults in Japan, Active Faults in Japan, sheet maps and inventories, rev. ed., 437 pp., Univ. of Tokyo Press, Tokyo, 1991.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sagiya, T., S. Miyazaki, and T. Tada, Continuous GPS array and present-day crustal deformation of Japan, Pure Appl. Geophys., 157, 2302–2322, 2000.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schwartz, D. P. and K. J. Coppersmith, Fault behavior and characteristic earthquakes: Examples from the Wasatch and San Andreas fault zones, J. Geophys. Res., 89, 5681–5698, 1984.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stein, R. S. and G. Ekstrom, Seismic and geometry of a 110-km-long blind thrust fault 2. Synthesis of the 1982-1985 California earthquake sequence, J. Geophys. Res., 97, 4865–4883, 1992.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Toda, S., Coulomb stresses imparted by the 25 March 2007 Mw = 6.6 Noto-Hanto, Japan, earthquake explain its ‘butterfly’ distribution of aftershocks and suggest a heightened seismic hazard, Earth Planets Space, 60, this issue, 1041–1046, 2008.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • USGS, Magnitude 6.7—near the west coast of Honshu, Japan 2007 March 25 00:41:57 UTC,, 2007.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wallace, R. E., Earthquake recurrence intervals on the San Andreas fault, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull., 81, 2875–2890, 1970.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wells, D. L. and K. J. Coppersmith, New empirical relationships among magnitude, rupture length, rupture width, rupture area, and surface displacement, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 84, 974–1002, 1994.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Shinji Toda.

Rights and permissions

Open Access  This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

To view a copy of this licence, visit

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Toda, S., Awata, Y. Does the 2007 Noto Hanto earthquake reveal a weakness in the Japanese national seismic hazard map that could be remedied with geological data?. Earth Planet Sp 60, 1047–1052 (2008).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words

  • Noto Hanto earthquake
  • blind thrust
  • earthquake probability
  • seismic hazard map
  • long-term earthquake forecasting