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The March 11 temblor was felt as far away as Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia; Kao-hsiung, Taiwan; and Beijing, China.
It was preceded by several foreshocks, including a magnitude-7.2 event centred approximately 25 miles (40 km) away from the epicentre of the main quake.
History will record this event as among the world’s worst natural disasters, but geoscience textbooks will discuss it because of certain rare characteristics.
Words like tsunami, kazan (volcano), danso (fault), jishin (earthquake) and typhoon (hurricane) are basic vocabulary in Japan.
Two days prior to the massive temblor, a magnitude-7.2 earthquake with three aftershocks greater than magnitude 6.0 hit offshore eastern Honshu.
These quakes caused little damage even though the main rupture was only 8 kilometers deep.The tsunami raced outward from the epicentre at speeds that approached about 500 miles (800 km) per hour.It generated waves 11 to 12 feet (3.3 to 3.6 metres) high along the coasts of Kauai and Hawaii in the Hawaiian Islands chain and 5-foot (1.5-metre) waves along the island of Shemya in the Aleutian Islands chain.Hundreds of aftershocks, dozens of magnitude 6.0 or greater and two of magnitude 7.0 or greater, followed in the days and weeks after the main quake.(Nearly two years later, on December 7, 2012, a magnitude-7.3 tremor originated from the same plate boundary region.The country lies on the circum-Pacific Ring of Fire where Earth’s largest and fastest-moving tectonic plate (the Pacific Plate) is subducting at a rate of several centimeters per year beneath several other plates along deep trenches.This subduction has been producing earthquakes and volcanic eruptions along the Pacific rim for millions of years, since the Cretaceous.Tsunami waves also swept across the Pacific, causing damage or disruptions in Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.Casualties from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan may be 30,000.The quake caused no injuries and little damage.) The March 11, 2011, earthquake was the strongest to strike the region since the beginning of record keeping in the late 19th century, and it is considered one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded.It was later reported that a satellite orbiting at the outer edge of Earth’s atmosphere that day had detected The sudden horizontal and vertical thrusting of the Pacific Plate, which has been slowly advancing under the Eurasian Plate near Japan, displaced the water above and spawned a series of highly destructive tsunami waves.