Geology And Geophysics

Geophysicist Japan could be Hit with Maginitude 10 Megaquake

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"Geophysicist Japan could be Hit with Maginitude 10 Megaquake"
Caption: "Japan earthquake aftermath."
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The series of disasters that hit Japan may be far from over. The worst to come may be just over the horizon: a super mega-thrust earthquake that will deliver a devastating blow releasing massive destruction just short of the annihilation caused by the Chicxulub asteroid that vaporized part of the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago. The aftermath of that event is believed to have contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Seismologists have been keeping a wary eye on the Pacific plate that experienced such a gigantic rupture in March 2011 that a huge region of the seafloor collapsed and the Earth's rotation was affected.

Some have predicted another greater quake could occur in the foreseeable future—a quake so terrifyingly destructive that Japan could be finished as a nation.

One expert who worries bout Japan's preparedness for such a catastrophe is Professor Toru Matsuzawa of Tohoku University.

In a meeting of the Coordinating Committee for Earthquake Prediction held in Tokyo Japan on November 21, geophysicist Matsuzawa warned the members that Japan is not prepared for the possibility of the horrific event of a magnitude-10 earthquake. Such a quake, he emphasized, would create "days of tsunamis" and be just "one magnitude below a major asteroid strike."    

The Japanese news website, The Asahi Shimbun, reports that "Matsuzawa said a magnitude-10 quake is possible in theory if a large fault slips. [And] If a temblor of such a scale should strike, the underground rupture would continue for 20 minutes to an hour, meaning tsunami could hit coasts before the shaking subsides."

The event could be 32 times more powerful than the 2011 earthquake that destroyed much of northeastern Japan, generated two killer tsunamis, and directly precipitated the worst nuclear accident history. The TEPCI nuclear reactors are still spewing radiation and at the time of this report no one has been able to contain the nuclear leakage that is contaminating a large swath of the Pacific Ocean and beginning to poison Tokyo.

"If a 3,000-kilometer stretch from the Japan Trench to the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench along the Pacific Ring of Fire has a slip of 60 meters, that would constitute a magnitude-10 earthquake," Matsuzawa stressed.

Another news site, Japan Shimbun reports the professor told the group that: "…the maximum scale of an earthquake occurring anywhere in the world would be around magnitude-10, judging from Earth's size and the lengths of quake-triggering faults."

When asked if he is predicting such an event to happen soon, Matsuzawa deflected the question saying he's not claiming it will definitely occur. But he followed that statement up with a qualification: "Japan was hit by a magnitude-9 earthquake when it had been expecting a maximum magnitude-8, so people should be aware of what could happen."

More about this author: Terrence Aym

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