Digital News Report – A massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Japan sending a 20-foot tidal wave onto the east coast of island. Tsunami watches and warnings are being issued throughout much of the Pacific, including Hawaii.
This is the largest “recorded” earthquake ever measured in Japan. The second largest quake occurred on October 28, 1707, and it measured 8.6. More than 5,000 people died in that earthquake. This is the seventh largest earthquake ever anywhere.
Dr Lucy Jones, a spokesperson and seismologist for Cal Tech, says that these large earthquakes usually occur along subduction zones, similar to what lies off the coast of Oregon and Washington states.
Jones said the earthquake must have been caused on a very long fault – at least 300 or 400 miles long. One of the aftershocks was located only 40 miles north east of Tokyo.
Initially seismologists believed the earthquake measured 7.9 on the magnitude (Richter) scale. The magnitude was updated twice. There have already been five aftershocks measuring more than 6 and one measuring 7.1. Jones says we can expect more measuring over 7.0.
Hawaii Tsunami Warning
The National Weather Service says that a tsunami has definitely been spawned by the earthquake. “A tsunami has been generated that could cause damage along coastlines of all island in the state of Hawaii. URGENT ACTION
SHOULD BE TAKEN TO PROTECT LIVES AND PROPERTY,” the message read.
The first wave may not be the largest. “All shores of are at risk no matter which direction they face,” the NWS said.
The first tsunami wave is expected to hit the islands at 2:59 am HST, Friday March 2011.
Lucy Jones says the wave could hit the west coast of the United States. Deep water buoys should give authorities more information.
By Mark Williams