4th Kyoto University-Inamori Foundation Joint Kyoto Prize Symposium
July 1-2, 2017
Theme “Windows to the Future” - Looking Through the Eyes of Bio/Medical Technology, Mathematics, and Art - (Finished)

Asahiko Taira
Earth and Planetary Sciences, Astronomy and Astrophysics

Asahiko Taira

President, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)
・Plate tectonics
・History of the earth
・Scientific ocean drilling program

Title of Presentation

“Plate Tectonics, Japanese Islands and Chikyu

In the 1970s, plate tectonics revolutionized and triggered paradigm shift in earth science. Plate tectonics was initiated and advanced through the study of Mid-Atlantic Ridge. On the contrary, the understanding of plate subduction zone, especially the formation of geological structure was slow in progress.

Our research on the Shimanto Belt, Shikoku, Japan revealed that this geological terrane contains pillowed basalts and radiolarian chert that traveled over 3000km then later mixed with sandstone and mudstone deposited at the present latitude during the Cretaceous time. This was the first geological verification of plate subduction process and formation of accretionary complex. This study extended to a proposal of the origin of basement rocks of the Japanese Islands and evolution of continental crust.

Then I become involved with promotion of ocean drilling, construction of Chikyu and research in seismogenic zones. Presently, new fields of earth-life science are being created especially through the science programs related to Chikyu.

Presentation Movie


A brief Biography

Dr. Asahiko Taira received B.Sci. from Tohoku University, Japan and Ph.D. in geology from the University of Texas at Dallas in 1976. From 1977 to 1985, He worked at Kochi University, Japan where he taught geology and led the research on the Shimanto Belt. This research resulted in finding of oceanic plate materials incorporated in highly deformed turbidites thus established a geological method to recognize plate subduction-related accretionary prism. From 1985, he moved to Ocean Research Institute of the University of Tokyo where he was a leader in the research of marine geology in the Nankai Trough and scientific ocean drilling program (ODP). In 2002, he moved to JAMSTEC (Japan Agency of Marine-Earth Science and Technology) in order to take a leadership in the operation of D/V Chikyu and the related research and development projects. He is now the president of JAMSTEC and the professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo. He received the Japan Academy Prize in 2007. In 2016, the American Geophysical Union established a prize with his name (The Asahiko Taira International Ocean Drilling Science Prize) to recognize the achievement of young scientist in the field of ocean drilling.

Details of selected Awards and Honors
A list of selected Publications

Taira, A., Toczko, S., Eguchi, N., Kuramoto,S., Kubo,Y., and Azuma, Y., 2014, Recent scientific and operational achievements of D/V Chikyu, Geoscience Letts. 1:2. Doi:10.1186/2196-4092-1-2.

Kodaira, S., No, T., Nakamura, Y., Fujiawara, T., Kaiho, Y., Miura, S., Takahashi, N., Kaneda, Y. and Taira, A., 2012, Coseismic fault rupture at the trench axis during the 2011 Tohoku-oki earthquake, Nature Geoscience, 5, 646-650. Doi:10.1038/NGEO1547.

Moore, G.F., Bangs, N.L., Taira, A., Kuramoto, S., Pangborn, E. and Tobin, H.J.,2007, Three-Dimensional Splay Fault Geometry and Implications for Tsunami Generation, Science, 318, 1128, DOI: 10.1126/science.1147195.

Kiyokawa, S., Taira, A., Byrne, T., Bowring, S., and Sano,Y., 2002, Structural evolution of the middle Archean coastal Pilbara terrane, Western Australia. Tectonics, 21,1044.

Taira, A., 2001, Tectonic evolution of the Japanese island arc system. Annual Rev. Earth & Planet Sci., 109-134.

Taira, A., Kiyokawa, S., Aoike, K. and Saito, S., 1997, Accretion tectonics of the Japanese islands and evolution of continental crust. C.R. Acad. Sci. Paris, Sceinces de la terre et des planetes, 325,467-478.

Suyehiro, K., Takahashi, N., Ariie, Y. ,Yokoi, Y., Hino, R., Shinohara, M., Kanazawa, T., Hirata, N., Tokuyama, H. and Taira, A.,1996, Continental crust, curstal underplating, and low-Q upper mantle beneath an oceanic island arc. Science, 272, 390-392.

Taira, A., Pickering, K.T., Windley, B.F., and Soh, W., 1992, Accretion of Japanese Island arcs and implications for the origin of Archean greenstone belts. Tectonics, 11, 6, 1224-1244.

Taira, A., Byrne, T. and Ashi, J., 1992, Photographic Atlas of an accretionary prism. Univ. of Tokyo Press/Springer Verlag, pp 124.

Taira, A., Katto, J., Tashiro, M., Okamura, M. and Kodama, K., 1988,, The Shimanto Belt in Shikoku, Japan-evolution of Cretaceous to Miocene accretionary prism. Modern Geology, 12, 5-46.