Man made formations (strata) are widely distributed in urbanised and adjacent areas as result of anthropogenic activities during historical times and especially during intensive industrial development. Man made strata comprise cultural layers, landfills, waste management sites, abandoned industrial land, mine tailings, non-remediated pollution sites and other formations accumulated without proper environmental management, monitoring and treatment. The extent and thickness of man made strata in many places is unknown and/or poorly mapped. However, specific properties of the man made strata are clearly reported and documented, for instance in site investigation reports. These formations contain a variety of pollutants, and geotechnically are weak, unstable and unpredictable. They can be subject to severe liquefaction and landsliding during earthquakes. Therefore, man made strata are specific techo - geological formations with multiple problems and environmental implications, which must be better understood and managed.


New members should contact  the Secretary Dr. Jonas Satkunas (Lithuania), e-mail: 

Aim and objectives


The aim of the working group is to encourage research on, and stimulate understanding of, problems associated with man-made strata and arising from geopollution.

 The objectives of the Working Group are to:

  •  produce an overview of man-made strata and geopollution in different countries in 2010;
  • secure symposia and sessions on man-made strata and geopollution at major international conferences;
  • hold annual international thematic workshop meetings trough the auspices of the Japan Branch of IUGS-GEM;


Organisation of the Working Group

 The management of the group is undertaken by:

  •  Prof. Hisashi Nirei (Japan) – Chairman
  • Dr Jonas Satkunas (Lithuania), Secretary
  • Dr. Kunio Furuno (Japan), Secretary of Japan Branch of GEM
  • Prof. Qingcheng He (China)
  • Dr. Adriana Mezzano (Uruguay)
  • Dr. Brian Marker  (UK)

 Activities and publications


 An International Workshop on Man-Made Strata and Geopollution was held at Katori-Narita, Japan.



  • IUGS-GEM International Workshop on Man-made strata and Geopollution, Narita, Chiba, Japan. Extended Abstracts and field trip guide. By Hishashi Nirei, Kunio Furuno, Osamu Kazaoka;
  • Extended abstracts from the meeting and the Katori-Narita-Itako Declaration published on the IUGS-GEM website;
  • Satkūnas J., Gregorauskienė V., Kanopienė R., Mikulėnas V., Minkevičius V., Šačkus V., Šlauteris A. Man made formations and geopollution – state-of-art of knowledge in Lithuania. Geologija. Vilnius. 2011. Vol. 53 No. 1(73). p. 36-43.
  • Urban man-made strata: the IUGS-GEM initiative. Jonas Satkunas, Brian             Marker, Hishashi Nirei, Kunio Furuno. Proc. 48th CCOP meeting;
  • Technosols and urban soils identified at Montevideo city, Uruguay.  Adriana Mezzano in Geologija (Vilnius);
  • Classification of man made strata for assessment of geopollution. Nirei,             Hisashi, Furuno, Kunio, Osamu, Kazaoka, Marker, Brian and Satkunas, Jonas in Episodes.


 A working group session was held at the 34th International Geological Congress, Brisbane;

 An inventory of information sources on man made strata and geopollution based on replies to a questionnaire was commenced. Information on man made strata was collected from Finland, Estonia, Uruguay, Lithuania, Poland, Ireland, UK and Japan. On the basis of this survey it was concluded, that limited information on man made strata is available in unified or centralised data bases in these countries. Very few countries have databases on geopollution and information about man made strata is mainly available from engineering geological maps. Information about geopollution is mainly available from urban geochemical maps. Contributors to the inventory of information sources on Man Made Strata and Geopollution (besides the members of the working group were:

Finland:  Ossi Ikävalko, Timo Tarvainen (GTK),  Jaana Jarva (GTK) Teija Haavisto (GTK):

Estonia:  Anto Raukas, Technical University: 

Poland: Tomasz Nałęcz (PGI):

Ireland: Michael Sheehy (GSI).

 The results of the inventory were reported in a paper submitted to CCOP.

 A paper on responses to problems associated with man-made strata by Hisashi Nirei, Adriana Mezzano, Jonas Satkunas Kunio Furuno and Brian Marker was published in Episodes.


 The Working Group held a workshop meeting with a focus on liquefaction-fluidization problems in Japan followed by an International Symposium on Man-made Strata, which extended to issues including earthquake hazards and radioactive plume monitoring held at Itako, Japan, with an associated field visit to Fukushima, Iwaki City and Chiba Prefecture. 


 The Working Group held a training course on investigation of geopollution and remediation methods for surplus soils at disposal sites with another on liquefaction and fluidization in man-made strata during earthquakes later in the year.

 The Proceedings of the 2013 International symposium on Man-made Strata and Geopollution, with a focus on, liquefaction-fluidization problems and earthquake hazards were published.


 An international symposium on man-made strata and geopollution will be held in Japan in 2015 and in each subsequent year until 2017. A session has been proposed for the 35th International Geological Congress. An international symposium on man-made strata and geopollution will be held in Japan each Autumn until 2017.

 A paper on liquefaction and fluidization in reclaimed land has been submitted to Episodes. Also in preparation are papers on radioactive pollution plumes from Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, man-made strata at Ichihara City near Tokyo, and liquefaction and fluidization following the 2011 Tohuku earthquake.

 Preparation of a book on man-made strata and geopollution will commence in 2015.


Declaration made following the International Workshop on Man-made Strata and Geopollution, held on June 18, 2011 at Katori-Narita, Chiba, Japan


The dramatic consequences of the Great Earthquake of 11 March 2011 (the Tohoku Earthquake), which with a magnitude of 9  and number of aftershocks hit a wide area of eastern Japan, was the main topic of the workshop. The earthquake caused extensive liquefaction-fluidization and land subsidence phenomena. The reason is that many industrial and urban areas of the Kanto Plain and Tokyo Bay are built on soft sediments of deltaic and lagoonal origin or land reclaimed along the ancient coastlineof the Tokyo

Bay. During the workshop 14 presentations were given on the man-made strata and

geopollution, medical geology and geological hazards. Extended abstracts of presentations  and materials of field trip are available on the website of IUGS-GEM ( The field trip was guided by Hisashi Nirei, Kunio Furuno, Osamu Kazaoka and included observations of the consequences of the earthquake as well as geopollution sites. Professor Nirei proposed a declaration to draw awareness to the actions needed to reduce the impacts of future major earthquakes and of geopollution problems in Japan. All participants supported this declaration which is as follows:



                                    Katori-Narita-Itako  International Declaration

for deterring geological hazards such as those occurring in the 2011 Earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku


We, international researchers of man-made strata and geo-pollution, extend our sincere prayers for the resting in peace of the souls lost in the 2011 Earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku and our heartfelt wishes go to those hit by the disaster for the quickest possible recovery. We also extend our deepest sympathy to those who are suffering from effects of radiation pollution following the nuclear power plant disaster.


At the close of the International Workshop, we are setting out the following conclusions and proposals:


1.      The 2011 Earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku caused serious geological hazards, including large-scale liquefaction and fluidization in man-made strata formed by reclaiming land from the sea or valleys, and the calamitous tsunami along the coastline.  Man-made strata are abundant not only in Japan but also in the entire world. To reduce the further occurrence of damage in large-scale geological disasters in Japan we need to conduct detailed investigations of the Jinji unconformity i.e. the boundary discontinuity between man-made strata and natural strata, and the physical units within the man-made strata.

2.      In the 2011 Earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku , the tsunami which followed the earthquake generated tremendous geological hazards. We recommend the development of plans to evacuate people from the path of tsunami and to minimize damage. In areas with tsunami risk, people interested in tackling the local tsunami problems, including general residents, local historians, geologists, and tsunami researchers, should work together to identify record highest sea levels in the tsunami history of that area. The identified level must be agreed upon by the local authority and people in general. Once such a value is determined and agreed upon, it goes without saying that the local residents, particularly vulnerable people, should generally be relocated to higher places than the record level. Short-, medium- and long-term measures must be taken based on the agreed highest sea level while considering the benefits and costs of implementing the measures including impacts on the sea. Surveys of marine and coastal topography area are also needed to identify areas at maximum risk.

3.       For survey of radiation pollution resulting from damage such as that at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and implementing measures to deal with it, it is essential to take actions according to sound geoscience principles because of the movement of radioactive materials in the atmosphere and underground. We should measure radioactive materials according to the law of generation (decay), movement and deposition and take necessary actions. Scientific accuracy, democracy and openness are the key elements for such surveys and actions. This holds true for surveys and actions concerning all geopollution.


A renewed Declaration was presented at the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction at Sendai, Japan on March 11th , 2015:-


Geological Hazard Prevention Measures Learned from the 2011 Earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku and the International Declaration on Man-Made Strata and Geo-pollution


Four years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. We, the international researchers of the Working Group on Man-made Strata and Geo-pollution, pray for the victims of the earthquake to rest in peace and for a much faster science-led recovery of the affected areas.

We also hope and pray for the health of the victims of the radiation pollution following the associated nuclear power plant accident and for science-led and forward-looking revitalization of the affected areas that we can be proud of in the years to come.

The IUGS-GEM MMS & GP Working Group released the “International Declaration for Deterring the Geological Hazards occurring in the 2011 Earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku” on June 18, 2011.

That declaration consisted of the following three points. (1) The need for investigation and measures against damage from liquefaction-fluidization as well as ground wave (known in Japan as “Jinami”) phenomena. (2) The need for clear evacuation plans and measures against tsunami damage. (3) The need for investigation and measures against radiation pollution resulting from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident.

This international Working Group summarized and emphasized the aforementioned international declaration for deterring geological hazards at the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (March 14th to 28th, 2015 in Sendai, Japan).

Although four years have passed since the disaster, all three points listed above remain very true today. Thus, the international declaration continues to be valid and important for the prevention and mitigation of earthquake damage and for the investigation and planning of measures against radiation pollution resulting from the nuclear power plant accidents world-wide.

Since the birth of human civilization, the magnitude of disasters has been increasing as settlements have expanded making more people and structures vulnerable to potential damage. With increasingly extensive developments on land, especially in coastal areas, the distribution of man-made strata in those areas has been expanding at an accelerating rate. Those strata are more physically and chemically varied than natural strata, thus the range of the potential impacts of associated earthquake phenomena is also rapidly increasing. Furthermore, the Jinji Unconformity (as the base of man-made strata is termed in Japan) and the variability of man-made strata also give rise to complex groundwater flows.

Investigations undertaken in the four years since the Great East Japan Earthquake have demonstrated that areas containing man-made strata were affected in complex ways. For example, (1) destruction of breakwaters and tsunami evacuation roads along the coast by liquefaction- fluidization, or Jinami (ground waves) followed by the arrival of huge tsunamis resulted in a complex disaster; (2) the transport and spouting out from the ground surface of pollutants contained in man-made strata due to liquefaction- fluidization, or Jinami caused local as well as dispersed pollution contributing to the complex disaster; and (3) man-made strata in coastal areas that were polluted by high concentrations of radioactivity from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident were also found to have sustained damage from liquefaction-fluidization, and tsunami.

The MMS & GP Working Group of IUGS-GEM, in research focusing on man-made strata and geo-pollution, has confirmed the close association of characteristics of the Jinji unconformity and the composition of man-made strata with increased geological hazards at the time of the earthquake. In addition, the Working Group has also confirmed that secondary sedimentation of layers containing radioactive substances from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant took place in the formation process of man-made strata.

Since the Holocene, the increase of man-made strata throughout the globe has been inevitable. On the occasion of the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, we stressed the increasing importance of the research on the formation process of man-made strata and Jinji unconformity in establishing their strong influence on disasters so that people around the globe will be equipped to avoid the impacts and reduce the consequences of disasters resulting from these causes.

This questionnaire is aimed to generate an overview of man-made strata and geopollution in different countries

We kindly ask you to spend some minutes and provide us with the following information:

1. Is there information on, or estimates of the extent of, man made formations in your country? Please indicate any key references and /or data sources?

2. Could you please indicate the most relevant examples of urban geological mapping/data bases that deal with man made strata:

3. What are the typical cases of geopollution (types of pollutants) related to man made strata? Please provide any key references and /or data sources?

4. What are typical geohazards (landslides, subsidence, liquefaction phenomena etc) associated with  man made formations? Please provide any key examples and references?

5. Are there national /regional /institutional data bases or inventories of polluted sites? Please provide any key references and /or data sources?

6. Are there other environmental aspects of man made strata that you wish to indicate?\

7. Please provide your contact details for further communication:

Thank you very much indeed for your answers and information. We assure, the data you provided would be published with proper acknowledgement of your contribution. Please return this questionnaire to: