TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 63 (No. 7), pp. 875-879, 2011


Ionospheric disturbances detected by GPS total electron content observation after the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake

T. Tsugawa1, A. Saito2, Y. Otsuka3, M. Nishioka3, T. Maruyama1, H. Kato1, T. Nagatsuma1, and K. T. Murata1

1National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, Japan
2Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Japan
3Solar-Terrestrial Environment Laboratory, Nagoya University, Japan

(Received April 9, 2011; Revised June 21, 2011; Accepted June 22, 2011; Online published September 27, 2011)

Abstract: All the details of ionospheric disturbances following the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake were first revealed by the high-resolution GPS total electron content observation in Japan. The initial ionospheric disturbance appeared as sudden depletions following small impulsive TEC enhancements ∼7 minutes after the earthquake onset, near the epicenter. Then, concentric waves appeared to propagate in the radial direction with a velocity of 138-3,457 m/s. Zonally-extended enhancements of the TEC also appeared in the west of Japan. In the vicinity of the epicenter, short-period oscillations with a period of ∼4 minutes were observed. This paper focuses on the concentric waves. The concentric pattern indicates that they had a point source. The center of these structures, termed the "ionospheric epicenter", was located about 170 km from the epicenter in the southeast direction. According to the propagation characteristics, these concentric waves could be caused by atmospheric waves classified into three types: acoustic waves generated from a propagating Rayleigh wave, acoustic waves from the ionospheric epicenter, and atmospheric gravity waves from the ionospheric epicenter. The amplitude of the concentric waves was not uniform and was dependent on the azimuth of their propagation direction, which could not be explained by previously-proposed theory.
Key words: Ionosphere, earthquake, tsunami, GPS, TEC, Japan.

Corresponding author E-mail: tsugawa@nict.go.jp

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