2024 Sea of Japan Earthquake

Geography in the News > 2024 Sea of Japan Earthquake

Internet Geography would like to express our sincere condolences and sympathy toward the people affected by the massive earthquake that hit Japan on January 1, 2024.

If you wish to support those affected by the earthquake, please explore the links below.

Global Giving – Japan Earthquake Relief Fund: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/japan-earthq…

Tohoku Disaster Relief: https://www.jnpoc.ne.jp/en/what-we-do/tohoku-disas…

Japanese Red Cross: https://www.jrc.or.jp/eq-japan2011/

2024 Sea of Japan Earthquake

On January 1, 2024, a significant earthquake struck the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, at 16:10 Japan Standard Time (JST), 07.10 in the UK. The earthquake had a magnitude of 7.5 and occurred at a depth of 10 kilometres.

The Japan Meteorological Agency recorded a magnitude of M_JMA 7.6. This earthquake resulted from shallow faulting along a northeast-trending plane, occurring at the convergent boundary between the Okhotsk Plate and the Amurian Plate.

Image Source: Eric Gaba – Attribution: Sharealike 2.5

A foreshock of magnitude 5.5 occurred four minutes before the mainshock, followed by a magnitude 6.2 aftershock nine minutes later, with about 60 aftershocks recorded in total, at least seven of which had magnitudes of 5.0 and above. Aftershocks from the earthquake were still being felt a day on.

The footage below from Japanese broadcaster NHK shows the moment an earthquake shook Suzu, on the coastline in Ishikawa prefecture, and is sourced from the BBC.

The earthquake rupture extended approximately 200 kilometres, from southeast of the Noto Peninsula to Sado Island, with the largest displacement of 3.67 meters beneath the peninsula. The Japan Meteorological Agency recorded a maximum seismic intensity of 7 (Shindo 7), the highest level on its seismic intensity scale. This was the first time an earthquake of this intensity had been observed in Japan since 2018, and it was felt as far as Tokyo and Aomori Prefecture in the north and Kyushu in the south.

The earthquake caused a tsunami along the Sea of Japan, leading to the first major tsunami warning since the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake. Large parts of Japan’s western coast were immediately placed under a tsunami warning, with evacuation orders issued in Ishikawa, Niigata, Toyama, and Yamagata prefectures. The first tsunami waves arrived around 16:21, exceeding 1.2 meters in Wajima. Other areas like Kanazawa, Toyama Prefecture, and Kashiwazaki also experienced smaller tsunamis.

The earthquake was severe, causing buildings in Ishikawa Prefecture to collapse. Many buildings affected were older properties that hadn’t been built to withstand large earthquakes. The earthquake also caused power outages for around 36,000 homes, a fire in Wajima, and significant road damage. The number of people who have died is currently known to be 48. Many people were injured, with broken bones and injuries from falling objects, and there were reports of people trapped under rubble. In Toyama Prefecture, roads cracked and water pipes broke, while in Niigata Prefecture, two people were injured, and there was liquefaction causing significant infrastructure damage.

In response, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida urged residents facing the tsunami threat to evacuate immediately. The following day, all tsunami warnings were lifted along Japan’s Sea. The government emphasised the criticality of evacuating coastal areas, and many evacuees found shelter at the Japan Air Self-Defense Force base in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture. Just over 57,000 people were evacuated, according to the Japanese government.

The Japanese PM Fumio Kishida ordered army personnel to help with the relief effort, which was hampered by extensive damage to roads. Around 1,000 rescuers searched for people thought to be trapped beneath collapsed buildings. The Japanese military also handed out supplies, including food, water, and blankets, to those who had had to leave their homes. Over 36,000 meals were delivered across the Ishikawa regions of Japan’s main island, some by helicopter.

This page will continue to be updated as events unfold. 

Additional Reading

USGS M7.5 – 42 km NE of Anamizu, Japan


  • Major Earthquake in Japan

    On January 1, 2024, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, at a depth of 10 kilometres. A foreshock and significant aftershocks, including a 6.2 magnitude event, followed.

  • Seismic Activity Details

    The earthquake resulted from shallow reverse faulting along the Okhotsk and Amurian Plate boundary. Over 60 aftershocks occurred, with seven exceeding magnitude 5.0. The Japan Meteorological Agency recorded a peak seismic intensity of 7 (Shindo 7), the highest since 2018.

  • Tsunami and Warnings

    The earthquake triggered a tsunami along the Sea of Japan, prompting major tsunami warnings and evacuations in multiple prefectures. Tsunami waves reached over 1.2 meters in Wajima.

  • Destruction and Casualties

    The quake caused significant damage, including building collapses primarily in Ishikawa Prefecture, power outages, and a fire in Wajima. It led to at least 48 fatalities and numerous injuries, including bone fractures and injuries from falling debris.

  • Evacuations and Immediate Response

    Prime Minister Fumio Kishida urged evacuations due to the tsunami threat. Over 57,000 people were evacuated, and tsunami warnings were lifted the following day. Evacuees found shelter at the Japan Air Self-Defense Force base in Wajima.

  • Relief Efforts

    The Japanese government, led by PM Kishida, deployed army personnel for relief efforts. Despite road damage, around 1,000 rescuers searched for survivors. The military distributed essential supplies across affected areas, including over 36,000 meals.

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