Open Access

Holocene ages and inland source of wood blocks that emerged onto the seafloor during the 2007 Chuetsu-oki, central Japan, earthquake

Earth, Planets and Space200860:BF03353152

Received: 29 November 2007

Accepted: 29 May 2008

Published: 18 November 2008


At least 300 tons of subrounded to well-rounded wood blocks emerged onto the seafloor at a water depth of 70–100 m during the 2007 Mw 6.6 Chuetsu-oki, central Japan, earthquake. Radiocarbon dating and taxonomic identification of eight of those wood blocks suggest that they were transported from inland during the middle to late Holocene, buried by subsequent sedimentation, and brought up onto the seafloor in 2007, most likely by submarine liquefaction induced by strong shaking. In particular, all eight blocks gave ages older than 2500 cal yr BP, implying the possibility that the 2007 earthquake was the first earthquake during the last two millennia to have caused shaking strong enough to induce submarine liquefaction in the 2007 meizoseismal area. However, we cannot rule out the possibility of multiple large earthquakes after approximately 2 ka, if the buried wood sources cannot be emptied by a single earthquake. Further studies are required to examine paleoseismic implications of the emergence of these wood blocks in 2007.

Key words

2007 Chuetsu-oki earthquake wood block seafloor liquefaction radiocarbon dating paleoseismology