The School Beneath The Wave.
On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake shook northeastern Japan, unleashing a savage tsunami. The effects of the great earthquake were felt around the world, from Norway’s fjords to Antarctica’s ice sheet. Tsunami debris continues to wash up on North American beaches two years later. Radioactive water was discovered leaking from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which suffered a level 7 nuclear meltdown after the tsunami. About 230,000 people who lost their homes were still living in temporary housing, Japan’s Reconstruction Agency said. Here are some of the amazing facts about the Japan earthquake and tsunami:
- The earthquake shifted Earth on its axis of rotation by redistributing mass, like putting a dent in a spinning top. The temblor also shortened the length of a day by about a microsecond.
- More than 5,000 aftershocks hit Japan in the year after the earthquake, the largest a magnitude 7.9.
- About 250 miles (400 km) of Japan’s northern Honshu coastline dropped by 2 feet (0.6 meters), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
- The jolt moved Japan’s main island of Honshu eastward by 8 feet (2.4 meters).
- The Pacific Plate slid westward near the epicenter by 79 feet (24 m).
- In Antarctica, the seismic waves from the earthquake sped up the Whillans Ice Stream, jolting it by about 1.5 feet (0.5 meters).
- The tsunami broke icebergs off the Sulzberger Ice Shelf in Antarctica.
- As the tsunami crossed the Pacific Ocean, a 5-foot high (1.5 m) high wave killed more than 110,000 nesting seabirds at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.
- In Norway, water in fjords pointing toward Japan sloshed back and forth as seismic waves from the earthquake raced through.
- The earthquake produced a low-frequency rumble called infrasound, which traveled into space and was detected by the Goce satellite.
- Buildings destroyed by the tsunami released thousands of tons of ozone-destroying chemicals and greenhouse gases into the air.
Credit: Becky Oskin for LiveScience
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