A seismologist would undoubtedly be able to use logarithms to work out the reach of a tsunami with all kinds of variables; however on the ground it can be impossible to see much logic in the sweep of the flow. Houses on a small hill on the point of the bay were find where as houses much further back were swept away. We cleaned up a rice field well over a km from the sea in Otomo, in front of the Junior High School (which can be seen on the map below),. From where we were we had little sense of the direction of the sea -and there was dispute among group members over which it was. Both were right and the water apparently came from both sides of the peninsula. The first floor of the JHS school was engulfed, the primary school next door which was a couple of metres higher was OK.
The points were much safer than the inlets, even if they were only slightly elevated. The angle at which the tsunami approaches seems to have a lot to do with the scope of destruction.
Many people died on high ground on ground they thought was safe - where previous tsunami hadn't reached.
|A Map of Rikuzen Takata showing schools, and key public buildings|
|A terrain map - looking at this you can see that the roads, trainlines, schools, and town centre in the map above |
are build on the flat.