The distribution of tsunami run-up heights generally has spatial variations, because run-up heights are controlled by coastal topography including local-scale landforms such as natural levees, in addition to land use. Focusing on relationships among coastal topography, land conditions, and tsunami run-up heights of historical tsunamis—Meiji Sanriku (1896 A.D.), Syowa Sanriku (1933 A.D.), and Chilean Sanriku (1960 A.D.) tsunamis—along the Sanriku coast, it is found that the wavelength of a tsunami determines inundation areas as well as run-up heights. Small bays facing the Pacific Ocean are sensitive to short wavelength tsunamis, and large bays are sensitive to long wavelength tsunamis. The tsunami observed off Kamaishi during the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake was composed of both short and long wavelength components. We examined run-up heights of the Tohoku tsunami, and found that: (1) coastal areas north of Kamaishi and south of Yamamoto were mainly attacked by short wavelength tsunamis; and (2) no evidence of short wavelength tsunamis was observed from Ofunato to the Oshika Peninsula. This observation coincides with the geomorphologically proposed source fault model, and indicates that the extraordinary large slip along the shallow part of the plate boundary off Sendai, proposed by seismological and geodesic analyses, is not needed to explain the run-up heights of the Tohoku tsunami. To better understand spatial variations of tsunami run-up heights, submarine crustal movements, and source faults, a detailed analysis is required of coastal topography, land conditions, and submarine tectonic landforms from the perspective of geomorphology.
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