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2011 Tohoku, Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

9.0M Earthquake Strikes off the Coast of Tohoku, Japan; Tsunami Warning Extends Across the Pacific to North & South America

map of 8.9M earthquake off coast of Honshu, Japan

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred near the east coast of Tohoku, Japan, 231 miles from Tokyo, on Friday, March 11, 2011, at 12:46 a.m. EST (5:46 UTC), making it the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan on record.

As a result of the massive earthquake, tsunami warnings have been placed in effect by the National Weather Service for at least 50 countries and territories across the Pacific Ocean extending to North and South America. Hawaii felt the impact of a tsunami resulting from the quake, at about 3:07 a.m. local time (8:07 a.m. ET)1, and remains on tsunami alert along with Alaska and much of the U.S. and Canadian West Coast.2

According to USGS3, the earthquake’s epicenter was offshore 231 miles (373 km) away from Tokyo, at a depth of 15.2 miles (24.4 km), and occurred two days after a series of large foreshocks that struck 24.8 miles (40 km) away from the March 11 earthquake. The earthquake occurred as a result of thrust faulting on or near the subduction zone interface plate boundary between the Pacific and North America plates.3

media briefing

MCEER/UB experts participated in a media briefing on March 11, 2011, in response to the 8.9M earthquake off the coast of Japan, which occurred earlier in the day.

MCEER and UB's Office of Communications organized a briefing for members of the media today in which various experts were gathered to answer questions and provide information about the disaster. MCEER Investigators included Gilberto Mosqueda (Associate Professor, Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Earthquake Engineering), Chris Renschler (Associate Professor, Department of Geography), and Greg Valentine (Professor, Department of Geology and Director, Center for Geohazards Studies). Stephen Dunnett (Vice Provost for International Education) and Keiko Ogata (Japanese native and Ph.D. student in the Department of English) also spoke at the briefing.