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.
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.
Theoretical basis of some empirical relations in seismology, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 65: 1073-1095 (with Anderson, D. L.), 1975.
The energy release in great earthquakes, Journal of Geophysical Research 82: 2981-2876, 1977.
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.
Real-time seismology and earthquake hazard mitigation, Nature 390: 461-464 (with Hauksson, E. and Heaton, T.), 1997.
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.
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”.