movement of tectonic plates resulting in geologic activity such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Five million tons of material and debris from Japan were swept out to the Pacific Ocean by the tsunami. Explore these resources to teach your students about catastrophic weather events and how they impact every part of the world. For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. This is because the physical conditions in each place are different. Cities and towns listed here reported at least US$ 100,000 in damage or at least one death. 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. 4. Tsunami swirls near a port in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture, after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011. Here’s a look at the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March of 2011.. March 11, 2011 - At 2:46 p.m., a 9.1 magnitude earthquake takes place 231 miles northeast of … The wall of water that struck Japan in March was the result of at least two waves that combined to create a more powerful tsunami, U.S. scientists said Monday. "Tsuami Spirits" looks at the supernatural occurrences that happened in the days, weeks, and months following the tsunami. He serves currently as the editor of Earth and life sciences, covering climatology, geology, zoology, and other topics that relate to... Aerial view of damage to a portion of the northeastern coast of Honshu, Japan, following the offshore earthquake and resultant tsunami there on March 11, 2011. On March 11, 2011, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake occurred 231 miles northeast of Tokyo. If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. The nuclear crisis that followed at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, and the subsequent detection of radioactive contamination Tsunami waves smashed the coast, causing massive damage and flooding. All across northern Japan they felt it.   It was the fifth most powerful earthquake ever recorded, and within 30 minutes, a 133-foot high tsunami pummeled Japan's northeastern shoreline. A magnitude 9.0 earthquake rupturing the Earth's crust nearly 130 km off the east coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, triggered a tsunami that reached the Japanese coast approximately 30 minutes later. activity that includes a discharge of gas, ash, or lava from a volcano. Large stretches of land were left submerged under seawater, particularly in lower-lying areas. Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force, Ōfunato, Iwate prefecture, Japan Members of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force in rescue and recovery operations in Ōfunato, Iwate prefecture, Japan, after the city was devastated by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. When you reach out to him or her, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource. For example, if you live in northern California you are more likely to be impacted by a wildfire, landslide, or earthquake than if you live in Charleston, South Carolina, but less likely to be hit by a hurricane. (Nearly two years later, on December 7, 2012, a magnitude-7.3 tremor originated from the same plate boundary region. Click below to see a MapMaker Interactive map displaying tectonic activity surrounding the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The clash of these plates can also cause violent earthquakes, where Earth’s surface shakes. Terms of Service |  You cannot download interactives. On March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m. (Japanese Standard Time; March 10, 9:46 p.m., Pacific Standard Time), a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the eastern coast of the Tohuku region, northern Honshu Island in Japan. Flooding from Tsunami near Sendai, Japan. Tsunami in Japan Japan was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake on March 11, 2011, that triggered a deadly 23-foot tsunami in the country's north. Massive Quake, Tsunami Batter Japan March 11, 2011. TEPCO officials reported that tsunami waves generated by the main shock of the Japan earthquake on March 11, 2011, damaged the backup generators at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Damaging tsunami waves struck the coasts of Iwate prefecture, just north of Miyagi prefecture, and Fukushima, Ibaraki, and Chiba, the prefectures extending along the Pacific coast south of Miyagi. Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011, also called Great Sendai Earthquake or Great Tōhoku Earthquake, severe natural disaster that occurred in northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011. As these massively destructive and costly events become more frequent, scientific evidence points to climate change as a leading cause. The Japanese government estimated that 5 million tons of debris was swept up by the event, with about 70 percent sinking to the seafloor and 1.5 million tons left floating. The 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku (Japanese: 東北地方太平洋沖地震, Hepburn: Tōhoku-chihō Taiheiyō Oki Jishin) was a magnitude 9.0–9.1 (Mw) undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 JST (05:46 UTC) on Friday 11 March 2011, with the epicenter approximately 70 kilometers (43 mi) east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tōhoku and the hypocenter at an underwater depth of approximately 29 km (18 mi). Privacy Notice |  The tsunami, spawned by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan, killed hundreds as it slammed the eastern coast of Japan… On March 11, 2011, Japan experienced the strongest earthquake in its recorded history. The tsunami raced outward from the epicentre at speeds that approached about 500 miles (800 km) per hour. Many people who lived through the disaster have recorded ghost encounters from its victims. wreckage from Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011 Fishing boat lying amid the wreckage in Ōfunato, Iwate prefecture, Japan, after being washed ashore by the tsunami that struck the city on March 11, 2011. It was later reported that a satellite orbiting at the outer edge of Earth’s atmosphere that day had detected infrasonics (very low-frequency sound waves) from the quake. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. At the end of a narrow inlet, the city of roughly 8,000 households lost 75 percent of its homes. It is estimated that the initial tsunami wave took 10 to 30 minutes to make its first landfall. industrial facility for the generation of electric energy. having unstable atomic nuclei and emitting subatomic particles and radiation. The Tohoku earthquake caused a tsunami. What if you could do something to help people who live in areas that are prone to earthquakes? If you have questions about licensing content on this page, please contact ngimagecollection@natgeo.com for more information and to obtain a license. forced removal of something, often people or organisms, from their communities or original space. Join our community of educators and receive the latest information on National Geographic's resources for you and your students. On May 22, 1960, the largest earthquake in recorded history—magnitude 9.5—struck southern Chile. The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck at 2:46 pm. East of Japan, the Pacific plate dives beneath the overriding Eurasian plate. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. More than 450,000 people became homeless as a result of the tsunami. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). (Some geologists argue that this portion of the Eurasian Plate is actually a fragment of the North American Plate called the Okhotsk microplate.) Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service. conditions that surround and influence an organism or community. On March 11, 2011, Japan experienced the strongest. As the floodwaters retreated back to the sea, they carried with them enormous quantities of debris, as well as thousands of victims caught in the deluge. The second season of Unsolved Mysteries details the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. While they can often be predicted, the loss of life and property take an emotional and economic toll on the community impacted. Sustainability Policy |  Regions are the basic units of geography. The great plates are rough and stick together, building up energy that is released as earthquakes. At this time, the risk of contamination from radioactive materials and the risk of exposure to radiation are thought to be low, especially for anyone staying at least 50 miles from the nuclear power plant. 2. large settlement with a high population density. 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. The March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused widespread devastation that affected many of the country’s agricultural and fishery areas. Map prepared by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration depicting the tsunami wave height model for the Pacific Ocean following the March 11, 2011, earthquake off Sendai, Japan. Acquired March 15, 2011, and January 16, 2011, these false-color images show part of the Kitaami River before and after the 8,9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in early March 2011. Learn more about environmental hazards with this curated resource collection. to leave or remove from a dangerous place. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. The surface of the Earth is made up of tectonic plates that lie beneath both the land and oceans of our planet. Building codes in California require builders to meet standards set to minimize structural damage in an earthquake and coastal cities have building code to reinforce roofs and walls to resist a storm’s high winds. The earthquake struck below the North Pacific Ocean, 130 kilometers (81 miles) east of Sendai, the largest city in the Tohoku region, a northern part of the islandof Honshu. In the wake of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck northeastern Japan in March 2011, ocean waters flooded croplands and settlements lining the Kitakami River. The epicentre was located some 80 miles (130 km) east of the city of Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, and the focus occurred at a depth of 18.6 miles (about 30 km) below the floor of the western Pacific Ocean. Japan earthquake and tsunami - 2011 Japan is an island nation located in East Asia. The earthquake was so strong that it shifted Earth on its axis. When a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred off the northeast coast of Japan and triggered a tsunami in March 2011, one of the hardest hit areas was the city of Rikuzentakata. Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force, Ōfunato, Iwate prefecture, Japan Members of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force in rescue and recovery operations in Ōfunato, Iwate prefecture, Japan, after the city was devastated by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. Because the risk for contamination with radioactive materials is thought to be low, there is no indication that taking potassium iodide (KI, iodine pills) will be… When those plates scrape against each other and cause an earthquake, the results can be deadly and devastating. The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant cooling system was damaged, raising fears of a meltdown. The Japanese coastline near Sendai is flooded in this false-color image, taken March 12, 2011, nearly a day after a earthquake-generated tsunami inundated the coast. This is an alphabetically sorted list of cities and towns severely damaged by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media. Damage to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant after the earthquake and tsunami resulted in a leak of radioactive material from this facility. Buildings are damaged by an earthquake-triggered tsunami in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, Friday, March 11, 2011. The event began with a powerful earthquake off the northeastern coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island, which caused widespread damage on land and initiated a series of large tsunami waves that devastated many coastal areas of the country, most notably in the Tōhoku region (northeastern Honshu). . 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