Source: Yahoo Images
Near the east coast of Honshu, Japan, a devastating magnitude 8.9 earthquake hit yesterday, March 11, 2011. This the largest recorded magnitude earthquake in Japan's history. This large earthquake was accompanyied by foreshocks on the two previous days on March 9th with a magnitude 7.2 event approximately 40 km from the 8.9 magnitude earthquake, and continuing with 3 earthquakes greater than magnitude 6 on the same day. Scientists say that this Honshu earthquake was 8,000 times the size of last months Christchurch earthquake (See previous post).
The location of these earthquakes is along the Japan Trench subduction zone. The Pacific plate thrusts underneath the North American plate where Japan is located.
Large magnitude earthquakes in the area have occurred before. This zone has had nine events of magnitude 7 or larger since 1973. A magnitude 7.8 earthquake about 260 kilometers to the north of the March 11 event, in December 1994, which caused 3 fatalities and almost 700 injuries. In June of 1978, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake 35 kilometers to the southwest caused 22 fatalities and over 400 injuries.
Tsunamis were a result of these large earthquakes. A 23 foot tsunami off the coast of Japan was triggered with more than 50 aftershocks, many of them greater than 6.0 magnitude. Waves reached speeds up to 500 miles per hour! Hours later, 7 foot tsunamis reached Hawaii. Evacuations were order on Hawaii and the west coast of the United States. Ships, cars, homes were carried away by these tsunamis. Fires ignited and burned out of control as well.
Source: Yahoo Images
So far, it is predicted that greater than 10,000 people have died. Police also said 947 people were injured (Yahoo News). It may be awhile until rescuers can reach certain areas because of the damage to the roads.
Another result of the earthquakes is a nuclear crisis. An explosion occurred at the nuclear power plant in Japan. The cooling system of the plant failed, so water was poured over the reactors to cool them. The hydrogen formed from the water reacted with the oxygen, causing the explosion and radiation being emitted from the plant.
Did they see these earthquakes coming? Could the fatalities been prevented???
There are theories out there that say that the unusual lack of seismic activity in the area may predict that there will be a large magnitude earthquake. Others say that the foreshocks were indications of the event.
Russian scientist Yevgeny Rogozhin has said that the Japanese quake could have been predicted. He said that a weaker quake took place in the area a week ago. Pre-cautions should have been taken, however hindsight is 20/20.