The earthquake struck at about 3pm on Friday the 11th of March 2011 in the ocean off the coast of Japan which consequently led to a devastating Tsunami that washed away entire communities on the countries eastern coast.
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of water as in this case, an ocean. The waves that hit the Japanese coasts were several meters high and traveled at speeds up to 300mph.
Thousands of people are feared dead with thousands more yet to be accounted for. Japan, one of the world’s most technologically advanced and earthquake-prone nation’s remains paralyzed after the 8.9-magnitude “megathrust.”
It was the fifth-strongest quake in the world since 1900 and the most powerful on record ever to hit Japan, but not the deadliest. The quake was 700 times more powerful than the one that struck Haiti last year, but the death toll appears to be far lower than the 220,000-plus killed in the Caribbean.
Japan faces a potential catastrophe as the quake-crippled nuclear power plant exploded and sent low levels of radiation floating toward Tokyo, prompting some people to flee the capital and others to stock up on essential supplies.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan urged people within 30 km (18 miles) of the facility — a population of 140,000 — to remain indoors amid the world’s most serious nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986.
The quake was caused when one giant tectonic plate was shoved under another, the type of movement that produces the biggest earthquakes. It’s the same kind of quake that caused the devastating 2004 Indonesian tsunami.
Friday’s quake caused a rupture 186 miles long and 93 miles wide in the sea floor 80 miles off the eastern coast of Japan. It happened 15 miles beneath the sea floor. The quake happened at the intersection of the North American and Pacific plates in the northwestern chunk of the “Ring of Fire,” in an area that “has been incredibly quiet.”
The tsunami tore docks apart and knocked boats loose all the way across the Pacific Ocean, in California and Oregon. “The energy radiated by this quake is nearly equal to one month’s worth of energy consumption” in the United States, said U.S. Geological Survey scientist Brian Atwater.
The force of the quake was so strong that it moved the island of Honshu 8 feet to the east, said USGS geophysicist Ken Hudnut. It sped up the Earth’s rotation by 1.6 microseconds, according to NASA.
by Tosan Aduayi. Photos: agency reports
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