Friday, March 11, 2011

8.9 Earthquake Tsunami Hits East Coast Honshu Japan

Reports say the 8.9 quake off the coast of Northern Japan lasted for minutes and was felt strongly in Tokyo. The Japanese Seismic monitors put the largest quake at 7.9 - but the USGS upgraded their report to having registered an 8.9 earthquake.

The quake was followed by a large 10 meter high tsunami, which swept buildings away in Onahama city, in Fukushima prefecture. The earthquake was followed by a 7.4 aftershock thirty minutes later. Japanese media are reporting that half an hour after the earthquake tall buildings in Tokyo, 373 kilometers from the epicenter, were still swaying.

Tsunami warnings had been issued for 20 countries in the wake of the earthquake, including Australia, Hawaii and the West coast of America. There are reports that a large tsunami wave from the Japanese quake is spreading out across the Pacific Ocean.

What makes this earthquake strange is the geological timing of these powerful earthquakes in the region of Japan's Northeast Pacific coast. On March 2, 1933 a powerful 8.4 quake hit the region killing 3,000 people. We humans give the months names and the years numbers; but the Earth times quakes and volcanic eruptions over Earth Sun rotations we can barely understand.

Japan is no stranger to large earthquakes. However, the magnitude of this quake is devastatingly close to the 9.0 Indonesian earthquake in December 2004. The Japanese earthquake was 8,000 times more powerful than the recent Christchurch quake. Reports say the sustained shaking experienced in Tokyo was unusually severe.

The U.S. Geological Survey say this is the largest earthquake to hit Japan in the last 140 years. Japan lies at the crossing of four tectonic plates: the Eurasian, North American, Philippine and Pacific plates.