3/11 aftermath preserved in 3-D

To preserve the memory of the March 2011 calamity for future generations, universities are collecting three-dimensional data on tsunami-ravaged buildings and other structures before they are torn down.

Tohoku University and the University of Tokyo are using lasers to make precise measurements, the same method being used to document the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia.

The Tohoku University Museum in Sendai has measured a fishing boat that washed up on the coast in Kesennuma and the exposed frame of a municipal office building in the town of Minamisanriku.

A viewer can “walk through” the structures by wearing special 3-D glasses while viewing the images on a personal computer.

“This is one way to virtually restore the site of the disaster,” said Tohoku University professor Hiroshi Nishi.

Ravaged buildings are being demolished in the disaster zone as reconstruction progresses, raising concerns that people will forget the magnitude of what happened.

Tohoku University plans to accelerate its measurement work in the hardest-hit prefectures — Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima — in cooperation with local governments and private organizations.