We've all been floored by the footage and information about the Mw8.9 earthquake in Japan (video) and the tsunami that followed. Some of the footage is stunning - like nothing I've ever seen. Video of the tsunami hitting Kesennuma City on the eastern coast of Japan show the constant flow of rising water, enough to easily move a tractor-trailer. Some of the aerial footage of Sendai (see below) show the flooding in the city and the NASA Earth Observatory also captured a MODIS image of the region clearly showing the area inundated by the tsunami. If you want to see the arrival of the tsunami across U.S. territories, check out the NOAA tidal gauges, just select March 11-12 in the date menu. The tsunami did damage in Hawai`i and then hit Oregon and California after crossing the Pacific Ocean (video). IRIS also posted an animation of the signal from the earthquake crossing the U.S.
Tsunami damage at the Sendai airport from the March 12, 2011 earthquake.
The number of dead or missing could end up being staggering, possibly upwards of tens of thousands in Japan alone, and judging from images of the destruction, this isn't hard to believe (especially considering the tsunami alone has 1.3 petawatts of power). This doesn't even touch upon the recovery that will be needed across the country, including the nuclear plants that are still in a highly dangerous state. The earthquake's force moved the island of Honshu ~2.5 m / 8 feet to the east thanks to the release of stress on the subduction zone. Aftershocks are going to be a problem as well during the recovery. There is just so much information on the earthquake that I've had trouble keeping up, but be sure to check out Highly Allochthonous or Mountain Beltway - amongst other sites - for piles of information.
As a reminder, this earthquake in Japan had little to nothing to do with any lunar cycle and the eruptions that followed may have been indirectly related to the seismicity, but came from volcanoes that were highly active in the first place. I'd still be very surprised to see any volcano that was showing no signs of activity becoming active directly after a distant earthquake. There has been a lot of chatter about one of the previous large earthquakes in Japan in 1707 that was followed after a month by an eruption of Mt. Fuji. However, that earthquake was both closer to Fuji and in the south of the country rather than in the north, so trying to make any prediction of potential activity at Fuji would be tenuous at best.
In unrelated news, it is Spring Break here at Denison, so posts next week might be sparse unless something happens that requires direct attention. You might be amused by this article written by a Denison student on yours truly and the blog - specifically about media hype (a particularly fitting subject right now). Feel free to post any updates - earthquake, volcano or otherwise - here.
Remember, you can donate to the American Red Cross to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami.
Top left: Damage from the Mw8.9 earthquake in Japan.