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Geology of Japan

geology of japanese islands, geology of japan earthquake


  • 1 Formation of Japanese Islands
  • 2 Geological composition
    • 21 General information
    • 22 Geological structure
  • 3 Research on Geology of Japan
  • 4 Current geological hazards of Japanese Islands
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 Further reading
  • 8 External links

Formation of Japanese Islandsedit

The islands of Japan are primarily the result of several large ocean movements occurring over hundreds of millions of years from the mid-Silurian to the Pleistocene as a result of the subduction of the Philippine Sea Plate beneath the continental Amurian Plate and Okinawa Plate to the south, and subduction of the Pacific Plate under the Okhotsk Plate to the north

Around 23 million years ago, the now Western Japan was a coastal region of the Eurasia continent The subducting plates, being deeper than the Eurasian plate, pulled parts of Japan which become modern Chūgoku region and Kyushu eastward, opening the Sea of Japan simultaneously with the Sea of Okhotsk around 15-20 million years ago, with likely freshwater lake state before the sea has rushed in1 Around 16 million years ago, in Miocene period, a peninsula attached to the eastern coast of the Eurasian continent was well formed About 11 million years before present, the parts of Japan which become modern Tohoku and Hokkaido were gradually uplifted from the seafloor, and terranes of Chūbu region were gradually accreted from the colliding island chains The Strait of Tartary and the Korea Strait opened much later, about 2 million years ago At the same time, a severe subduction of Fossa Magna graben have formed the Kantō Plain2

Geological compositionedit

General informationedit

Overall, the geological composition of Japan is poorly understood Japanese islands are formed of several geological units parallel to the subduction front The parts of islands facing oceanic plates are typically younger and display larger proportion of volcanic products, while the parts facing Sea of Japan are mostly heavily faulted and folded sedimentary deposits In north-west Japan, the thick quaternary deposits make determination of the geological history especially difficult3

Geological structureedit

The Japanese islands are divided into three major geological domains:

  • Northeastern Japan, north of Tanakura fault which had high volcanic activity 14-17 million years before present4
    • Idosawa Fault
    • Senya Fault
    • Hidaka Mountains
  • Central Japan, between Tanakura fault and Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line
    • Fossa Magna graben
    • Tanna Fault
  • Southwestern Japan, south of Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line The Southwestern Japan is further subdivided into several metamorphic belts stretched along Japan Median Tectonic Line5
    • Urasoko fault
    • Fukozu Fault
    • Neodani Fault
    • Nojima Fault
    • Hida orogenic belt
    • Sangun orogenic belt
    • Maizuru orogenic belt
    • Tanba-mino orogenic belt
    • Ryoke orogenic belt
    • Shimanto orogenic belt6
    • Sambagawa orogenic belt7
    • Chichibu orogenic belt8
    • Sambosan orogenic belt
    • Beppu–Shimabara graben

Research on Geology of Japanedit

The Geology of Japan is handled mostly by Geological Society of Japan 日本地質学会, with following major periodicals:

  • Geological Journal 地質学雑誌 - since 1893
  • Geological Studies 地質学論集 - since 1968
  • Geological Society of Japan News 日本地質学会News - since 1998

Current geological hazards of Japanese Islandsedit

Japan is situated in a volcanic zone on the Pacific Ring of Fire Frequent low intensity earth tremors and occasional volcanic activity are felt throughout the islands Destructive earthquakes, often resulting in tsunamis, occur several times a century The most recent major quakes include the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, the 2004 Chūetsu earthquake and the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995 Hot springs are numerous and have been developed as resorts

See alsoedit

  • Seismicity in Japan
  • List of earthquakes in Japan
  • List of volcanoes in Japan
  • List of mines in Japan


  1. ^ Barnes, Gina L 2003 "Origins of the Japanese Islands: The New "Big Picture"" PDF University of Durham Retrieved August 11, 2009 
  2. ^ Formation History of the Japanese Islands on glgarcsrgrjp
  3. ^ Geology of Japan from wwwgsjjp
  4. ^ Yurie SAWAHATA, Makoto Okada, Jun Hosoi, Kazuo Amano, "Paleomagnetic study of Neogene sediments in strike-slip basins along the Tanakura Fault"
  5. ^ Southwestern Japan on geoarizonaedu
  6. ^ A Taira, H Okada, J H McD Whitaker & A J Smith, The Shimanto Belt of Japan: Cretaceous-lower Miocene active-margin sedimentation
  7. ^ Sanbagawa belt on mindatorg
  8. ^ Chichibu belt from geoarizonaedu

Further readingedit

  • Hashimoto, M, ed 1990 Geology of Japan Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers ISBN 9780792309093 
  • T Moreno Editor, SR Wallis Editor, T Kojima Editor, W Gibbons Editor ed Geology of Japan Geological Society of London2015 ISBN 978-1862397439 CS1 maint: Multiple names: editors list linkCS1 maint: Extra text: editors list link

by - Author,

  • Takai, Fuyuji; Tatsurō Matsumoto; Ryūzō Toriyama 1963 Geology of Japan University of California Press 

External linksedit

  • Geological Survey of Japan - English homepage
External image
Statistical map of location, size and depth of earthquakes near Japan
  • National Archives of Japan: Tatoroyama no ki, survey of limestone cave in Mount Tatoro in Kozuke Province, 1837 Tenpo 8

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