Japan’s recent massive earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded, appears to have moved the island by about 2.4m, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said on Saturday.
“That’s a reasonable number,” USGS seismologist Paul Earle said. “Eight feet, that’s certainly going to be in the ballpark.”
Friday’s magnitude 8.9 quake unleashed a terrifying tsunami that engulfed towns and cities on Japan’s northeastern coast, -destroying everything in its path.
The quake and its tectonic shift resulted from “thrust faulting” along the boundary of the Pacific and North America plates, according to the USGS.
The Pacific plate pushes under a far western wedge of the North America plate at the rate of about 83mm per year, but a colossal earthquake can provide enough of a jolt to dramatically move the plates, with catastrophic consequences.
“With an earthquake this large, you can get these huge ground shifts,” Earle said. “On the actual fault you can get 20m of relative movement, on the two sides of the fault.”
He said similar movements would have been seen in recent earthquakes in Chile and Indonesia.
In December 2004, a magnitude 9.1 quake off Sumatra caused a tsunami that killed an estimated 228,000 people. An 8.8 quake off the coast of Chile in February last year killed more than 500.
There was not a similar ground shift in the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that devastated Haiti in February last year, Earle said.
“A magnitude 7.0 is much smaller than the earthquake that just happened in Japan,” he said. “We’ve had aftershocks [in Japan] larger than the Haiti earthquake.”
Kenneth Hudnut, a USGS geophysicist, said experts read data, including from global positioning systems, to determine the extent of the shift.
“We know that one GPS station moved [2.4m] and we have seen a map from GSI (Geospatial Information Authority) in Japan showing the pattern of shift over a large area is consistent with about that much shift of the land mass,” he told CNN.
AT WASHINGTON SUMMIT: The agreement between the US and 14 Pacific nations came half a year after the Solomon Islands struck a security deal with China The Solomon Islands has joined 13 other Pacific nations in signing a wide-reaching US-led partnership agreement, after early indications it would refuse. The 10-point US-Pacific Partnership deal was announced by the White House on Thursday evening, following the first-ever meeting between a US president and the leaders of every major Pacific nation. It includes commitments for increased action on climate change, economic development and security cooperation. Earlier, US President Joe Biden committed more than US$810 million to a new Pacific initiative. “A great deal of the history of our world is going to be written in the Indo-Pacific over the coming years
‘DEVOTED GUARDIANS’: A Chinese foreign affairs official said his nation’s diplomats would not ‘sit and do nothing while our country’s interests are being harmed’ China yesterday signaled no letup in its combative approach to foreign policy in a third term for Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) as leader despite criticism from many Western diplomats that the so-called “wolf warrior” stance has been counterproductive. As relations with the West have soured over issues from trade and human rights to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese diplomats have often been confrontational on the public stage, including on social media, a stridency that some critics see as intended for a domestic audience that nonetheless hurts its foreign ties. “We Chinese will not capitulate. We will not sit and do nothing while
ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER: Most of the escaped gas is methane, the second biggest contributor to climate change and a ‘potent greenhouse gas,’ an oceanographer said Denmark on Tuesday said it believed “deliberate actions” by unknown perpetrators were behind big leaks — which seismologists said followed powerful explosions — in two natural gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany. European leaders and experts pointed to possible sabotage amid the energy standoff with Russia provoked by the war in Ukraine. Although filled with gas, neither pipeline is currently supplying it to Europe. “It is the authorities’ clear assessment that these are deliberate actions — not accidents,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. However, she added that “there is no information indicating who could be behind it.” Frederiksen
LANDING INCIDENT: A plane with 63 passengers was shot at by ‘terrorists’ from an ethnic minority militia, state news reported, although militants denied responsibility Myanmar’s military government accused rebel forces in the eastern state of Kayah of firing at a passenger plane as it was preparing to land on Friday, wounding a passenger who was hit by a bullet that penetrated the fuselage. Rebel groups denied the allegation. Myanmar state television MRTV said the Myanmar National Airlines plane, carrying 63 passengers, was hit as it was about to land in Loikaw, the capital of the eastern state of Kayah, also known as Karenni. It cited junta spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun as saying the shooting was carried out by “terrorists” belonging to the Karenni National