2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami

Answer the following questions regarding the 2011 Japanese earthquake using the Internet and the “Tohoku 2011” Powerpoint file (uploaded). Full sentence answers not necessary.


First, open the “Tohoku 2011” Powerpoint file, go over the slides to get an overview and read summary notes at bottom of slides. Also, take special note of slide 4.

1. The shaking from this event was one of the longest ever recorded on Earth. How long did the shaking last? (slide 3)

2. Looking at web traffic statistics (slide 5), what was the peak number of visits/day for the Tohoku earthquake?

3. In slide 6, what does the dashed green line represent?

4. What was the peak slip (maximum movement) along the fault? (slide 7)

5. In the last 100 years, there have been two distinct clusters of earthquake activity. Over what years do we see these two peaks? (slide 8)

For the remaining questions, the United States Geological Survey has an excellent summary here:

Also, Wikipedia also has a good treatment of this topic. FYI, Wikipedia tends to be a good reference on science and history; just don’t use it for anything of a contentious nature!

6. On what type of plate boundary was the earthquake generated?

7a. What tectonic plate is subducting under Japan?

7b. How fast does this plate subduct?

8a. The earthquake was a megathrust earthquake… what is a megathrust?

8b. Name three other megathrust earthquakes of magnitude 9.0 or greater.

9. What is a volcanic arc, and what is the origin of the volcanoes in Japan?

10a. What is an epicenter?

10b. What was the latitude and longitude of the Tohoku earthquake epicenter?

11a. What is a hypocenter?

11b. How deep was the Tohoku earthquake hypocenter?

12. What was the magnitude of the earthquake that generated the tsunami?

13. What does the phrase “stick-slip” (not strike-slip) mean in regards to faulting?

14. Were there foreshocks? If yes, how big, and when?

15. How many aftershocks greater than 6.0 M have been recorded?

16a. What was the vertical drop along the coastline?

16b. What effect did this have on the tsunami?

17. How far east did the earthquake move Honshu, the largest island of Japan?

18a) Did the earthquake change the shape (roundness) of the Earth?

18b) Did it shift the tilt of the Earth (ie, Earth’s axis?) If yes, by how much?

18c) Did it change the length of a day on Earth? If yes, by how much?

19. How many people died from the earthquake?


Two Youtube videos that summarize the devastation:

aerial view from helicopter:

view from building top:

20. How many people died from the tsunami? (Note: this answer is vastly different than #19 above.)

21. How big were the largest tsunami waves by the time they hit the beach?

22. How big were the tsunami waves in Chile, 11,000 miles away?

FYI, nice graphic here:

23. What hints indicate a tsunami might hit a coastal area?

24. How is a tsunami generated by an earthquake?

25. What could have prevented the loss of life in this tragic event?

26. Could we have a tsunami here in California? Why or why not?

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