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Yoshinori IWASAKI
Geo-Research Institute, Osaka, Japan
ABSTRACT: There is an active hidden fault under urban area of Osaka, which has been anticipated to cause severe
damage due to its strong ground motions. Recent study by Committee for Technical Investigation on Countermeasures for
the Tonankai and Nankai Earthquakes, Central Disaster Management Council, Japanese Government made a report on
expected fault displacement of ground of the Osaka by the Uemachi fault. The report was based upon mathematical
simulation of ground surface by assumed fault displacements and shows flexure type deformation with width of about
10km. This paper discusses the comparison of the fault characteristics between the estimated fault displacements by the
Central Disaster Management Council and the real feature of the fault that had been obtained through seismic refraction
survey. The estimated results are found different from the reality and are concluded to give wrong conclusion. The wrong
results were caused by wrong assumption of the fault model. Earthquake computation becomes highly sophisticated and
relied themselves too much. They need to be familiar with the reality in the real field to make a bridge between computation
and real world.
The Kobe earthquake of 1955 gave a great shock to Osaka
city where a hidden active fault became to be the most
dangerous earthquake, which had been intentionally
disregarded before Kobe Earthquake. The East Japan
Earthquake of 2011 gave another shock for Osaka city.

It makes Osaka city to realize the Nankai Earthquake,

which may take place Pacific Ocean off south west of Japan,
might cause the same level of Tsunami as by the East Japan
Earthquake. The Osaka area had been suffering from
ground settlement caused by pumping underground water
and western part of the city is characterized as low level
ground where inundation becomes a common disaster.

Fig.1a Assumed Fault Segments Fig.1b Crustal Movement of Uemachi Fault (Central Disaster Management
Council, 2010)


Uemachi fault that runs in north-south direction in Osaka

city is anticipated to cause settlement in the west side of the
fault which might to result in much lower level in addition
to ground settlement. To estimate the effect of the
additional settlement by Uemachi fault, the Central
Disaster Management Council decided to compute the
ground displacement caused by the Uemachi-fault.

Surface displacement by each fault element was estimated

by elastic solution proposed by Okada(1985) and the total
displacement was obtained as the sum of each fault element.
The estimated vertical displacements along the fault is
shown in Fig.1b. The vertical displacements along three
lines perpendicular to the fault as shown in Fig.2 were
obtained and plotted in Fig.3.

Fig.2 Computed Heave/Settlement by Uemachi Fault

Fig.1-a shows the assumed fault segments based which the
vertical components of the ground surface of Osaka was
obtained and shown in Fig.1-b. In generally, Uemachi fault
is known as a reversal type fault under the crustal
compression stress of west-east direction. The dip angle of
the fault is about 60degrees in east direction. The assumed
fault is 43km in length with 12km in width and consists of
two segments as shown Fig.1-a. Each fault segment is
further divided into fault element with small area. The
averaged fault displacement is 4.1m for Uemachi fault. The
displacement for each fault element was assigned with
different values for their locations. A segment is divided
into two parts of asperity and the rest of the area. So called
asperity as shown in shaded in Fig.1-a that radiates
seismic waves and called as seismogenic zone. The rest of
the area is considered as not to contribute to generate
seismic waves. The displacement was only assigned for
fault element statistically in the asperity zones. The
averaged displacement for the asperities were 7.2m and
8.8m with 8.2m in average.

Fig.3 Vertical Displacements along three lines across the

The maximum heave was 1.9m at 4.5km away from the
fault line as shown in Line A-A, B-B, and C-C of
Fig.3.The maximum settlement was 0.7m at 3km away
from the fault line. The horizontal distance between the
maximum heave and the maximum settlement is one of the
character defining element of the reversal fault and is found
about 8km.
We have been engaged in seismic reflection surveys for
characterization of Uemachi Fault since 1980. Fig.4 shows
reflection seismic lines of RL-1, RL-2 crossing Uemachi
Fault, RL-3 crossing Sakura-Gawa Flexure of branch of
Uemachi Fault as well as RL-4 crossing Osaka Bay Fault.
Seismic profiles of RL-1, RL-2, RL-3, and RL-4 are shown
in Figs.5-7. RL-1 and RL-2 clearly depict the base rock
formation of granite under the Osaka Basin. The depth of
the base rock is 1500m in the west side and 600m in the
east side below the ground surface in RL-1 line of Fig.5 and
RL-3 line of Fig.7.

Fig.4 Geological and Fault Map with

Reflection Seismic Survey Lines

Fig.5 Reflection Seismic Line

Line RL-1 (Nagara-line)


Fig.6 Reflection Seismic Line

Line RL-2 (Nakanoshima-line)

The computed displacements of Line A-A, B-B, and C-C

are plotted in upper part in Fig.7. As shown in the lower
part of Fig.7, the width of the deformation of the surface
ground above the fault is identified as 0.4km. It should be
noted that the width of flexure for Uemachi Fault computed
displacement is quite different from the real conditions that
has been identified by the reflection seismic profiles.

The result of computation of settlements by the Central
Disaster Management Council, the Government of Japan,
is compared with the characteristic curve of the flexure of
Uemachi Fault in Fig.8. Computation shows very gentle
increase of the settlement to the west direction at about 4km.
The observed trend in the seismic profile shows the same
change within a very short distance and stays constant
beyond the distance of 0.3km from the fault. In terms of
disaster prevention point of view, the settlement of the
ground is estimated smaller than those estimated by seismic
reflection profile. When the observed characteristics of the
flexure displacement above the fault is true, the estimation
by the Government gives wrong results, estimation is too
safe, the reality is much dangerous.

Fig.7 Seismic Reflection Line-3 and flexure width

Fig.9 shows reflection survey for RL-4 along west to east

in the Osaka Bay, which shows clear reversal active fault,
The Osaka Bay Fault, in the western edge of the Bay. When
the fault is activated settlement in the east side of the fault
results in the settlement of Osaka city as well as Tsunami.


Osaka area stands right above the Uemachi active fault on

the land as well as Osaka Bay Fault in the sea. Both faults
are believed to have affected geomorphology at present and
in the future. The Computation of displacement by the
Central Disaster Management Office, Gov. of Japan, shows
different features from what is found by seismic reflection
and results in wrong conclusion.

Fig.8 Comparison between computed vs. observed

Any computation should be compared with available field

fact data and fed back to the assumption.
Okada,Y (1985):Surface deformation due to shear and
tensile faults in a half-space. Bull. Seism. Soc. Am., 75, 11
Yamamoto et al.(1992) Seismic Reflection in Osaka, Proc.
Japan Applied Geology, 1992, pp185-18835-1154.

Fig.9 Seismic reflection along RL-4, Osaka Bay

Nakagawa et al.(1989) Problems of Osaka Ground from the

point of seismic waves, Proc. of Applied Geology, Kansai
Branch, pp90-105.
Iwasaki(1994)Basement Structure by Airgun Reflection
Survey in Osaka Bay, Southwest Japan, Jishin
Seismological Society of Japan, Vol.II-46,PP 395-403