2007Basic SciencesEarth and Planetary Sciences, Astronomy and Astrophysics
Hiroo Kanamori photo

Hiroo Kanamori

  • Japan / October 17, 1936
  • Geophysicist
  • Professor Emeritus, California Institute of Technology

"Elucidation of Physical Processes of Earthquakes and Its Application to Hazard Mitigation"

Dr. Hiroo Kanamori has made an epoch-making progress on the study of great earthquakes through the establishment of analytical method to understand quantitatively all over the rupture process of a great earthquake making full use of seismogram. This study has ushered in a new era in seismology and had a significant impact on the development of geophysics. He has made practical proposals on how to mitigate earthquake hazards based on the knowledge gained through basic studies and contributed to building up and conducting earthquake hazard mitigation systems.

Profile

Brief Biography

1936
Born in Tokyo, Japan
1962
Research Associate, The University of Tokyo
1964
Ph.D. (Geophysics), The University of Tokyo
1965
Research Fellow, California Institute of Technology
1966
Associate Professor, The University of Tokyo
1969
Visiting Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1970
Professor, The University of Tokyo
1972
Professor, California Institute of Technology
1989
John E. and Hazel S. Smits Professor of Geophysics, California Institute of Technology
1990
Director, Seismological Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
2005
John E. and Hazel S. Smits Professor of Geophysics Emeritus, California Institute of Technology
2005
Invited eminent scientist of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Award for Eminent Scientists, Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University
2006
Visiting Professor, Nagoya Universityy

Selected Awards and Honors

1992
Harry Fielding Reid Medal, The Seismological Society of America
1993
Arthur L. Day Prize and Lectureship, National Academy of Sciences
1993
California Scientist of the Year Award, California Science Center
1994
Asahi Prize, The Asahi Shimbun
1996

Walter H. Bucher Medal, American Geophysical Union
2004
Japan Academy Prize, The Japan Academy
2006
Person of Cultural Merit Award, Japan
Member
American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Selected Publications

1970

Synthesis of long-period surface waves and its application to earthquake source studies-Kurile Islands earthquake of October 13, 1963, Journal of Geophysical Research 75: 5011-5027, 1970.

1975

Theoretical basis of some empirical relations in seismology, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 65: 1073-1095 (with Anderson, D. L.), 1975.

1977

The energy release in great earthquakes, Journal of Geophysical Research 82: 2981-2876, 1977.

1983

The rupture process and asperity distribution of three great earthquakes from long-period diffracted P-waves, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors 31: 202-230 (Ruff, L. and Kanamori, H.), 1983.

1997

Real-time seismology and earthquake hazard mitigation, Nature 390: 461-464 (with Hauksson, E. and Heaton, T.), 1997.

Citation

"Elucidation of Physical Processes of Earthquakes and Its Application to Hazard Mitigation"

Dr. Hiroo Kanamori has made an epoch-making progress on the study of great earthquakes by establishing analytical method to understand quantitatively all over the process of a great earthquake making full use of seismogram. This study has ushered in a new era in seismology and had a significant impact on the development of earth sciences. He has made practical proposals on how to mitigate earthquake hazards based on the knowledge gained through basic studies and contributed to building up and conducting earthquake hazard mitigation systems.

In the 1960s, Dr. Kanamori began investigating great earthquakes and sequentially revealed the essential mechanism of rupture at great earthquakes occurred along the Pacific Rim. These allowed him to establish almost single-handedly a field that may be called “great earthquake seismology.” With his continued study, Dr. Kanamori contributed to development of the newly-born plate tectonics theory and introduced the “moment magnitude” as a new measure of earthquake magnitude. Its usefulness is clearly demonstrated by the fact that most seismological institutions used only this magnitude when reporting the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake of December 2004.

With the advance of observation and computation technologies, Dr. Kanamori extended his studies on great earthquakes. He proposed the “asperity model” providing a general explanation of the diversity of the rupture process. The validity of this model is currently being demonstrated by a global positioning system network that detects aseismic slip events around asperities. He applied “great earthquake seismology” to the elucidation of diverse seismic phenomenon. This work has continued to have a significant impact on various fields of earth science. Moreover, he applied research findings on the rupture process to seismic hazard mitigation, including proposal of a tsunami warning system based on real-time analysis of long-period seismic waves, adverting to dangerousness in resonance of huge structures, e.g., high-rise buildings and oil storage tanks, with long-period seismic waves, and advocating the usefulness of “real-time seismology.” A practical system of real-time seismology has already begun operating in Southern California. It acquires and analyzes data immediately after the occurrence of a major earthquake and uses them to predict strong motions just before the arrival of seismic waves. This approach is also being adopted in Japan and other countries. Dr. Kanamori’s proposals for mitigating seismic hazards are just coming to fruition.

Dr. Kanamori has been a major influence on various fields of earth sciences by creating a modern seismology and by demonstrating the diversity of earthquake phenomenon. Not content with these achievements, he has also made a substantial contribution to human well-being through his work to mitigate seismic hazards.

For these reasons, the Inamori Foundation is pleased to present the 2007 Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences to Dr. Hiroo Kanamori.

Lecture

Abstract of the Lecture

Falling in Love with Waves

I was born in 1936 as the 6th child of the family. My parents let me explore things in my own way. Also, because of the war, in my childhood, I had no regular classes, no books, nothing to write on, and no one to ask questions. Through this experience, I gained the habit of thinking myself first before I ask someone or consult books, and coming up with a solution myself. I think I retained this basic attitude throughout my professional life.

By the time I got to high school, it became obvious that my interest was in science. Also, having been awed by majestic sceneries of Japan Alps I saw during my childhood, I became interested in knowing how nature works to build mountains.

The combination of my interest in science and the force of nature eventually sent me to geophysics at college. As I learned wave equations in physics, I began to have strong desire to study earthquakes and volcanoes using waves. Using wave I could also study other processes such as shock waves generated by space shuttles, and perturbations of the Jupiter’s atmosphere caused by a comet impact. It was wonderful to be able to study all these spectacular natural processes which I had been curious about since my childhood.

In the mid 1980s, I began to think how I can contribute to the benefit of our society using the scientific knowledge we have gained. I thought about using real-time information of earthquakes for seismic damage mitigation. With many of my colleagues, we developed several effective ways to use real-time information for practical mitigation purposes. The CUBE (Caltech-USGS Broadcast of Earthquakes) system developed in southern California is one of them.

I am very lucky that I have been able to do what I really liked to do. If I have any advice to the next generation, “Do what you like best and do not let the desire for wealth and fame dictate your life”.

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Workshop

Workshop

"From Great Earthquake Seismology to Real Time Seismology"

date
November 12, 2007 (Mon.), 13:00 - 17:30
palce
Kyoto International Conference Center
Coordinators/Moderator
Yoshio Fukao (Member, Kyoto Prize Committee; Director-General, Institute for Research on Earth Evolution, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology)
Organized by Inamori Foundation
Supported by Kyoto Prefectural Government, Kyoto City Government, and NHK
With the cooperation of Japan Geoscience Union,Seismological Society of Japan, The Volcanological Society of Japan, Japan Association for Earthquake Engineering

Program

13:00
Opening Address Humitaka Sato (Chairman, Kyoto Prize Committee; Professor Emeritus, Kyoto
University)
Lecture Seiya Uyeda (Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo)
“Revolution of Solid Earth Geoscience we lived in”
Introduction to Laureate Hitoshi Mizutani (Member, Kyoto Prize Committee; Emeritus Professor,
Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science, Japan Aerospace Exploration
Agency)
Laureate Lecture Hiroo Kanamori (the Laureate in Mathematical Sciences)
“Waves in the Earth—Unravelling Earthquakes and Related Phenomena—”
Intermission
Lecture James Jiro Mori (Professor, Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto
University)
“University-Government Programs in Earthquake Hazards: The
Caltech-USGS Collaboration”
Lecture Akira Nishitani (Vice-President, Waseda University; Professor, Faculty of
Science and Engineering, Waseda Universtiy)
“Future Direction of Relationship between Structural Control and Seismology”
Intermission
Free Discussion Moderator Hitoshi Mizutani
Participation by all including audience
17:30
Closing
PAGETOP