The Great Tohoku, Japan Earthquake & Tsunami: Facts, Engineering, News & Maps

A M 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Honshu, Japan's most populous island near Sendai, the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture, on March 11, 2011 at 05:46:23 UTC (roughly 231 miles Northeast of Tokyo), registering as the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan on record. The earthquake occurred as a result of thrust plate faulting on or near the subduction zone interface plate boundaries between the Pacific and North American plates. The earthquake had been preceded by a series of large foreshocks over the previous two days, beginning on March 9th with an M 7.2 event approximately 25 miles from the March 11 earthquake, and continuing with three earthquakes greater than M 6 on the same day.1

The earthquake churned up a devastating tsunami that swept over cities and farmland along the northern part of Japan and threatened coastal areas throughout the Pacific. Walls of water whisked away houses and cars as terrified residents fled the coast. A ship carrying more than 100 people was reportedly swept away by the tsunami.2

The earthquake has killed at least 15,690 people, although the death toll is expected to rise. A tsunami warning was extended across the Pacific to North and South America. The Red Cross warned that the tsunami waves could be higher than some Pacific islands. A passenger train with an unknown number of people aboard was missing in one coastal area.3


Two Years Later

One Year Later

Earthquake & Tsunami Facts

  • M 9.0 Earthquake Strikes Off the Coast of Honshu, Japan 03/11/11 USGS report
  • M 7.1 Earthquake Strikes Off the Coast of Honshu, Japan 04/07/11 USGS report
  • M 7.1 Earthquake Strikes Near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan 04/11/11 USGS report
  • 15,853 Casualties BBC
  • 6,023 Injured BBC
  • 475,000 Evacuated Reuters
  • 3,282 Confirmed Missing BBC
  • Reconstruction Could Take Five Years BBC
  • 25 Million Tons of Debris BBC
  • Damage to Buildings: 10.4 Trillion Yen BBC
  • Damage to Infrastructure: 2.2 Trillion Yen BBC
  • Damage to Utilities: 1.3 Trillion Yen BBC

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