Biography of Masaki Kanao

  • Name: Masaki Kanao
  • Research Target: Masaki Kanao is chiefly interested in Earth's evolution from geophysical data, particularly by seismological studies. Polar regions, both in Arctic and Antarctic, have been investigated by several avairable seismological methods such as passive & aticive sources. He also intestested in present structure, dynamics and past tectonics of the continental lithosphere, derived from geophysical investigations by field surveys and computer sciences. Antarctic continent, as a menber of the past Gondwna super-continent, is a main target field to reveal the lithospheric evolution history. He has been managing the seismological observations of the Japanese Antarctic permanent station, i.e., Syowa Station of East Antarctica, and sorrounding continental margin area of Western Enderby Land - Eastern Dronning Maud Land. In orde to maintain continous monitoring observations of the broadband & short period seismometers, he has been obliged in advancing the data aquisition & transmission system by satellite communication for more than ten years. In recent years, he have been starting international cooperative studies in Shiberian region, Arctic Eurasia continent, by making broadband seismic observations with Russian Academy of Science. These investigations and observations have been contributing to the development of global Earth sciences, Federation of Digital Seismological Network (FDSN) and International Lithospheric Program (ILP), IASPEI. Data management (chiefly meta-data archives) for the retrieved data from both Polar region for all science branches are some part of his task as a Polar Data Center.  He is a member of SCADM (JCADM) under SCAR, and IPY data sub-committee under ICSU/WMO Joint Committee.
  • The most exciting initiative of recent studies of the polar regions is the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008. The IPY has witnessed that a growing community of geoscientists, including many seismologists, have undertaken considerable efforts to acquire high-quality data for the polar conditions. The justification for developing seismic arrays addresses both the unique aspects of seismology in Antarctica and general issues that are important to global Earth sciences.
    Taking these issues into account, he is willing to contribute to Polar Seismology which covers the recent topics on cryoseismology. All seismological topics related to the polar regions are welcome, such as studies of crust and mantle structure, monitoring of tectonic and glacier-related seismicity, recent large earthquakes and seismotectonics, tsunamis, and infrasonic waves, etc. The glacial earthquakes are the most prominent evidence found recently in polar region. It is expected that these contributions present the results of innovative seismological studies in the polar regions, as well as descriptions of observational experiments and long-term monitoring under the extreme conditions of cold environment.

  • Sex: Male
  • Place of Birth: Hiroshima, Japan
  • Year of Birth:1964
  • Country of Citizenship: Tokyo, Japan
  • Family: Wife & two sons
  • Office Address: 10-3, Midori-cho, Tachikawa-shi, Tokyo 190-8518, Japan 
  • Degrees:
  • 1989 Mar. B.Sc. Seismology, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
  • 1991 Mar. M.Sc. Seismology, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
  • Title of thesis: " Study on attenuation property for coda part of shear waves in the island arc regions " .
  • 1996 July Dr. Sc. Seismology, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
  • Title of thesis: " Study on shear wave structure for the crust in the Lutzow-Holm Bay Region, East Antarctica".
  • Positions Held:
  • 1991 Sep.- 1993 Mar. Research Associate, Disas. Prev. Res. Inst., Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
  • 1993 Oct.- 2007 Mar. Research Associate, Division of Earth Sciences, National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo, Japan
  • 2006 Oct.- 2017 March, belonging to Polar Data Center, Division of Polar Information, National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo, Japan
  • 2007 Apr.- 2010 March, Assistant Professor, Geoscience Research Group, Division for Research and Education, National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo, Japan
  • 2010 Apr.- 2017 March, Associate Professor, Geoscience Research Group, Division for Research and Education, National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo, Japan
  • 2017 Apr. - Present, Associate Professor, Polar Environment Data Science Center, Joint Support-Center for Data Science Research,  Research Organization of Information and System, Tokyo, Japan


Masaki Kanao


[Groups, titles]

Associate Professor, Geoscience Research Group, Division for Research and Education, National Institute of Polar Research; Polar Data Center, Division of Polar Information



D.Sc., 1996, Kyoto University


[Research fields]

Seismology, physics of the Earth’s interior, volcanology, tectonics, infrasound, global environmental studies, information technology


[Research field keywords]

Seismological observation, epicenter and waveform, continental evolution, structure and dynamics, history of the Earth, deep in the earth, polar region, frontier, glacial earthquake, warming, infrasound, Earth system, telescience, real-time disaster prevention, database, international collaboration



Seismological Society of Japan, The Geodetic Society of Japan, The Volcanological Society of Japan, The Japanese Society of Snow and Ice, Japanese Society of Applied Statistics, Japan Society of Energy and Resources, American Geophysical Union, The Japan Consortium for Arctic Environmental Research, Polar Research Promotion Association


[Research topics and activities]

My work aims at elucidating the processes of continental growth over the history of the Earth, from the perspective of the physical interactions on solid Earth due to current global environmental change and in terms of tectonics. I make use of various kinds of geophysical data, most importantly long-term seismological information collected in the polar regions (e.g., travel time, waveform, epicenter). More specific areas of research are: 1) monitoring of the vibrational characteristics of the solid Earth and earthquake and ice quake motion, in relation to variations in ice sheets, sea ice and seas connected with current environmental changes in the upper layers of the Earth’s crust, in particular global warming; (2) the nonuniform structure and dynamics of the crust to upper mantle, and the processes of supercontinent formation and separation; (3) the nonuniform structure and dynamics of the Earth’s interior (lower mantle to core), as seen from the poles; (4) fundamental study of observation techniques and data communication and archiving techniques for remote polar locations, and construction of a scientific database to contribute to research resource sharing; (5) contribution to real-time prevention in the event of disasters such as major earthquakes and tsunamis using INTELSAT satellites; and (6) active promotion of international joint research at both poles in order to acquire local data, which serves as the basis for analysis, and to promote collaborative analysis work.


[Social activities and contributions]

(1) Lectures: Comprehensive learning class, “Exploring the Earth from Antarctica,” Tokyo Metropolitan Musashi Murayama City Raizuka Elementary School (Oct. 2004); Comprehensive learning class, “Environment and history of the Earth from Antarctica,” Tokyo Metropolitan Kodaira City No. 4 Elementary School (March 2006, Nov. 2007); Comprehensive learning class, “What we can learn from Antarctica,” Gifu Prefecture Tajimi City Wakinoshima Elementary School (June 2006); Faculty of Engineering lecture series, “The formation of planet Earth as revealed by Antarctica and environmental system changes,” Kanto Gakuin University (Dec. 2005)

(2) Other activities: Appeared in TV program “Misako Konno’s Science Museum” (No. 702), “120 days in a summer expedition to Antarctica!” produced by TV Asahi AMAZON (Aug. 1998); participated in exhibition, “The Earthquake Exhibition,” to mark 80th anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake (“Exploring the interior of the Earth”), organized jointly by the Seismological Society of Japan, Yomiuri Shimbun, and the National Museum of Nature and Science (Aug. to Oct. 2003)


[Research outlook and self-assessment]

I have elucidated continental growth processes in relation to the physical interaction between current environmental change, the state of the solid Earth and the Earth’s history, by means of a comprehensive interpretation of various kinds of geophysical data, focusing on seismological information collected in polar regions. In particular, I determined the structure of the deep part of eastern Antarctica (where Showa Station is located) by analytical methods such as earthquake waveform inverse problem solution. I also investigated the physical and chemical characteristics of the rocks that make up the deep part of the Earth’s interior, taking into account petrological and mineralogical properties, utilizing surface geology, micro-tectonics and indoor high-pressure experiments. Furthermore, I investigated the shape of the reflective surfaces of deep crust and models of how these surfaces are formed, based on the deformation and flow patterns of rocks, and I estimated the tectonics of the Pan-African orogenic belt resulting from the formation and separation of the Gondwana supercontinent. Together with Japanese and international researchers, I have carried out lithospheric study of various parts of Gondwana, and also enthusiastically research Siberia and other parts of the Eurasian continent, which are currently forming a supercontinent. As a further challenge, I want to actively analyze a variety of seismic data collected at Showa Station and other polar regions over a long period of time, in order to shine further light on continental growth processes over the history of the Earth and on current dynamics of the Earth. In the area of solid Earth vibration phenomena observed in polar regions, my focus will be on the time and space distribution of earthquake epicenters, activity level analysis and the wave propagation characteristics in earthquake mechanisms, in connection with characteristic seismic vibrations (ice quakes, snow tremors, T-phases in the sea, after-effect changes associated with changes in ice sheets, sea ice, the ocean and crust that are considered to be the result of global warming, with the aim of contributing to quasi-real time monitoring of warming. In order to understand the process and history of supercontinent joining/separation, I will continue studying continental lithospheres at both poles, including the Russian North Pole. I also plan to investigate the history of the Earth as a whole, by associating the dynamics of the Earth’s interior with the nonuniform structure of the mantle and core deep inside the Earth and with pan-global plume tectonics. During International Polar Year 2007-2008, I formulated an international cooperation plan for a large-scale initiative aimed at setting up a wide-area seismometer in East Antarctica, with the view of meeting the goals outlined above. Also, I am actively adopting statistical techniques (e.g., GA, ETAS modeling), for analyzing earthquake waveform inverse problems and estimating time and space distribution of earthquake and ice quake activity, as part of these international efforts to study the Earth’s interior, as well as promoting fusion research with information and systems research institutes, in particular, the Institute of Statistical Mathematics. On top of all this, I am continuing to develop telescience technology using networks and satellite communications for rapidly delivering digital data collected in polar regions to fellow researchers, and I am working to build a technology database to enable data collected in quasi-real time to be utilized over the web.



(1) Department: Department of Polar Science, School of Multidisciplinary Sciences; (2) Classes: Introduction to Earth Metrology (Feb. 2007), Introduction to Advanced Earth Science I (June 2008); (3) Degree assessment history in Department of Polar Science:


[Educational activities at other universities]

Aichi University of Education, “Global Environment Statistical Science” (Dec. 2007), Kanazawa University "Polar Science and Global Environment" (June 2012), J. F. Oberlin Univeristy "Polar Science and Global Environment" (from April 2013)