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The Orphan Tsunami of 1700: Japanese Clues to a Parent Earthquake in North America Paperback – January 1, 2005


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The Orphan Tsunami of 1700: Japanese Clues to a Parent Earthquake in North America + Full-Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest + Cascadia's Fault: The Coming Earthquake and Tsunami that Could Devastate North America
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Product Details

  • Series: Professional Paper
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press / U.S. Geological Survey; Bilingual edition (January 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295985356
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295985350
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"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 100 most significant people of 2005

About the Author

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 Unit, University of Tokyo. David K. Yamaguchi is a statistician at the University of Washington.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Jill M. Tarabula on February 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
This depiction of an orphan tsunami that battered the eastern coast of Japan in 1700 combines colorful imagery with scientific research to infer an account of what happened three hundred years ago. Japanese and American diaries, oral traditions, and ancient maps are combined with more recent photographs, figures and statistical data to support geological evidence found both in North America and Japan. The conclusion reveals an earthquake in the Cascadia Range of North America (estimated magnitude= 8.7 - 9.2) that generated waves which destroyed homes and caused a shipwreck and flooding over 7,000 kilometers away. The book features a table of contents in English and Japanese, author biographies, references, an index, and interpretations of Japanese language and writings used during the research. The artistry of the publication compliments the contents, and anyone with a curiosity for the earth sciences, global history, or cross-cultural studies will be intrigued by this portrayal of a significant natural disaster.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on February 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
On January 26, 1700, a tsunami struck eastern Japan. Because they had experienced no preceding earthquake to explain the wave, contemporary Japanese writers recorded the event as an "orphan tsunami." Almost three centuries later, scientists in the western United States and Canada uncovered evidence of a massive earthquake (more or less a 9 on the modern scale) having occurred here at about that same time. This book presents the evidence for naming that quake the "parent" of the orphan tsunami, and also draws some conclusions about what an earthquake of that size might mean for 21st-century Cascadia.

There's an awful lot packed into this small book, and it's a fine example of how earth sciences, history, and other disciplines can work together to break new ground (so to speak) in our understanding of the past. But the way it's all presented in these pages? Oy. It kind of reminded me of the stereotypical mad scientist: you know he's a genius, but as he rushes around his lab, talking really quickly, pulling up charts and graphs and drawing on the chalkboard to prove his theories, all you can think is, "this guy is nuts."

In this case, the authors and their layout artists really went wild. From beginning to end, the book is a riot of old maps and new photos, illustrations, excerpts from Japanese and American diaries and records, line-by-line translations of Japanese reports, different-colored text blocks for sidebar articles, big two-paragraph-long photo captions, little illustrations of tectonic forces at work, screenshots from computer programs, and a lot more, all jumbled together. Although the information is interesting, I found sorting out the visual presentation tiring at times.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John E. Vidale on December 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
I've often heard Brian lecture this material to my UW classes, and often discuss with him the details and extension toward new work.

This book is one of a kind, gloriously illustrated and intelligently commentated. It may not be clear that Brian himself did much of the work to show the history of giant earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest. Brian was inducted to the National Academy of Science for these discoveries, among others, so readers are listening to an eminently qualified voice.

I agree with Rogers review that this is not the place to begin study of tsunamis and earthquakes, as the presentation does not make steady, incremental progress nor read easily, but I expect readers willing to work will be richly rewarded.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robert Busch on August 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
As a professional consulting geologist, I found this book to be the single best source to recommend to others (and sometimes give to clients) to explain the relevant details of the last great Cascadia subduction zone earthquake and, by extension, the potential for the next. The book contains magnificent diagrams and photographs, is highly readable, and is affordable. It is an easy book to skim through, an easy book to pick-up and put-down and pick-up again, and it is a wonderful book to re-read. I recommend it to anyone over about 13 who wants to know more about the Pacific Northwest's most recent great earthquake and its aftermath.
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