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Disturbance of shallow marine soft-bottom environments and megabenthos assemblages by a huge tsunami induced by the 2011 M9.0 Tohoku-Oki earthquake.

PLoS ONE. 2013;8(6):e65417 DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0065417


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Journal Title: PLoS ONE

ISSN: 1932-6203 (Online)

Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)

LCC Subject Category: Medicine | Science

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

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Koji Seike

Kotaro Shirai

Yukihisa Kogure


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Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Huge tsunami waves associated with megathrust earthquakes have a severe impact on shallow marine ecosystems. We investigated the impact of a tsunami generated by the 2011 M9.0 Tohoku-Oki earthquake on the seafloor and large benthic animals in muddy and sandy ria coasts (Otsuchi and Funakoshi bays) in northeastern Japan. We conducted underwater field surveys using scuba equipment in water depths of <20 m before the tsunami (September 2010) and after the tsunami (September 2011 and September 2012). During the study period, episodic changes in topography and grain-size composition occurred on the seafloor of the study area. Megabenthos sampling revealed a distinct pattern of distribution succession for each benthic species. For example, the protobranch bivalve Yoldia notabilis (Bivalvia: Nuculanidae) and the heterodont bivalve Felaniella usta (Bivalvia: Ungulinidae) disappeared after the tsunami event, whereas the distribution of the venus clam Gomphina melanaegis (Bivalvia: Veneridae) remained unchanged. In addition, the patterns of succession for a single species, such as the giant button top shell Umbonium costatum (Gastropoda: Trochidae) and the heart urchin Echinocardium cordatum (Echinoidea: Loveniidae), varied between the two bays studied. Our data also show that reestablishment of some benthic animal populations began within 18 months of the tsunami disturbance.