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Japanese Earthquake and Tsunamis: Before and After

Author(s): Center for Educational Outreach

Sendai, Japan Coast After the Tsunamis

This comparison image of the Sendai coastline was taken by NASA’s Terra spacecraft, using its MODIS instrument, approximately two days after the March 11 earthquake. In some places, the flooding extends as much as 5 kilometers (3 miles) inland. However, some areas, such as those just north and east of the fire (Matsushima Bay), show much less flooding. Have students suggest reasons for this. (In fact, the bay has a rocky coastline with cliffs and small islands that are higher than the tsunami waves. Conversely, Sendai has a low coastline.) What other areas on this picture show flooding? Change the two slides back and forth a few times to make the differences more obvious.