Displacement on the coast due to earthquake caused shift in Earth’s axis.
The main island of Japan appears to have moved by 8 feet (2.4 meters) following the strong earthquake that caused a terrible tsunami on 2011, along with the Earth’s axis.
Geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey Kenneth Hudnut stated, “At this time, we know that one GPS station moved (8 feet), 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” (USGS).
According to reports from Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the planet’s axis was moved by about 4 inches by the 8.9-magnitude earthquake (10 centimeters).
The 30-foot water walls that erupted after the earthquake completely flooded several settlements, which struck Friday afternoon on Japan’s east coast and killed hundreds of people. Houses were also dragged into highways. Vehicles were thrown around like toys. In Some waves in Miyagi Prefecture on the east coast of Japan traveled 10 kilometers (six miles) inland.
The tsunami it unleashed spread across the Pacific Ocean, prompting tsunami warnings and alerts for 50 nations and territories as far away as the western coasts of Canada, the United States, and Chile. The quake was the most powerful to ever hit the island nation according to records. On the first day following the earthquake, there were about 160 aftershocks. 141 of 160 were a magnitude of at least 5.0.
According to Shengzao Chen, a USGS geophysicist, the earthquake happened as tectonic plates shifted by more than 18 meters, causing a breach in the Earth’s crust along a region measuring roughly 250 miles (400 kilometers) long by 100 miles (160 kilometers) wide.
Japan is located within the “ring of fire” that surrounds the Pacific Ocean and runs across Japan from New Zealand in the South Pacific, over Alaska, and down the west coasts of North and South America. Intense volcanic and seismic activity define this region. According to Jim Gaherty of the LaMont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, the earthquake was “hundreds of times greater” than the one that devastated Haiti in 2010.
The earthquake in Japan had a similar magnitude to the one in Indonesia in 2004 causing a tsunami that claimed more than 200,000 lives in more than a dozen nations around the Indian Ocean. According to Gaherty, the size of the tsunami it generated was nearly equivalent. “[The 2004 tsunami] happened to impact some areas that were not well equipped for tsunamis… at the time, the damage was substantially worse since the Indian Ocean basin did not have a comprehensive tsunami warning system.”
Only a few weeks have passed since the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that struck Christchurch on February 22 and caused historic structures to collapse and more than 150 fatalities. The two earthquakes’ proximity has led some to wonder if they are connected, although experts say it is improbable given their distance from one another.
According to Professor Stephan Grilli of ocean engineering at the University of Rhode Island, “I would assume the relationship is quite slim.”