For the last full week before Christmas, the Geological Survey of Belgium, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, played host to Dr Philip Garrett, a Japanese scholar from the University of Cambridge. Dr Garrett is a Research Associate at the Faculty of East Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, where his research in the field of medieval Japanese history focuses on land and society in central Japan. His detailed historical knowledge, particularly of sites around the Kii Peninsula, is of great interest to the QuakeRecNankai project. The Kii Peninsula lies in the centre of the coastline affected by earthquakes and tsunamis from the Nankai-Suruga subduction zone. The southern tip of the peninsula, Cape Shionomisaki, marks the hypothesised boundary between the source areas of Nankai and Tōkai earthquakes.
The productive visit included locating and translating numerous papers in a wide range of hard-to-find Japanese publications on the documentary and geological evidence of historical earthquakes and tsunamis. We're particularly interested in how the focus of paleoseismological research has changed since 2011, when inadequate anticipation of the size of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami led to a rapid reevaluation by the Japanese Cabinet Office of how earthquake and tsunami hazards should be assessed. New guidelines stress the necessity of evaluating the largest possible size of earthquake and tsunami from all available lines of evidence. With some notable exceptions, the majority of this research, and of research from before 2011 has been published in Japanese only.
Dr Garrett also led a useful and entertaining session on professional manners and Japanese etiquette for QRN collaborators from the Geological Survey, Ghent University and the University of Liège.