Shop Windows to the Universe

Dig into Montana Before History: 11K Years of Hunter-Gatherers in the Rockies and Plains by D. H. MacDonald, Ph.D. See our online store book collection.

March 11, 2011 - 9.0 Magnitude Earthquake and Tsunami Hits Japan

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit at 05:46:23 UTC (02:46:23 pm local time) near the east coast of Honshu, Japan. The quake was 24.4 km deep at its epicenter, and occurred as a result of thrust faulting on or near the subducting plate boundary between the Pacific and the North American tectonic plates. The earthquake was preceded by numerous large foreshocks over the two preceding days, beginning on March 9, with a M 7.2 event approximately 40 km from the March 11 epicenter.

Following the major shock, which was the largest in Japan for 140 years (and one of the largest in the world for the past 100 years), a massive tsunami up to 10 meters high hit the coast of Japan, causing widespread devastation and loss of life across the region. In places, the wave traveled inland for several km.  As of March 14, several thousand have been found dead, with more thousands missing. The tsunami continued to propagate across the Pacific Ocean, causing damage in Hawaii, as well as in California.  There have been hundreds of aftershocks in Japan following the major earthquake, with more than two dozen at a magnitude of 6 or greater. The region is continuing to deal with tsunami warnings, which are complicating recovery efforts.

An additional complication is that the tsunami damaged reactors at the Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima.To date, there have been at least three explosions at the plant, which officials believe were due to explosive release of steam. Officials are still working to cool the reactors, and determine their condition and the resultant radiation hazard. In the meantime, as a result of the devastating earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor damage, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, many having lost their homes to the tsunami.

USGS March 11, 2011 Earthquake page

NOAA Center for Tsunami Research and Propagation Model

Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology Educational Resources for March 11, 2011 Earthquake

Google Crisis Response

Global Giving Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes books on science education, ranging from evolution, classroom research, and the need for science and math literacy!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

What Is an Earthquake?

The expression "on solid ground" is often used to describe something as stable. But sometimes the solid ground underfoot is not stable. It moves as Earth’s tectonic plates move. Sometimes it moves gradually....more

Subduction

When two sections of the Earth's lithosphere collide one slab of lithosphere can be forced back down into the deeper regions of the Earth, as shown in this diagram. This process is called subduction....more

Plate Tectonics

Many forces cause the surface of the Earth to change over time. However, the largest force that changes our planet’s surface is the movement of Earth's outer layer through the process of plate tectonics....more

1999--A Year in Review...

It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more

STS-95 Launch: "Let the wings of Discovery lift us on to the future."

The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more

Moon Found Orbiting Asteroid

A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more

U.S. is Fed Up with Russia

Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA